Have you ever lost your temper in a situation and wondered why it happened?

Perhaps you’re like me — usually a rational and calm person — and are shocked by your own behavior.

It’s likely that it happened at a time when you felt great stress, panic or overwhelm.

When we are under stress, our attitudes can run amok. But that isn’t the only thing happening. Underneath the surface, stress is firing all kinds of signals to our body.

The end result of these unseen signals?

  • Cortisol
  • Belly Fat
  • Reduced Brain Volume

Yep — all that is simmering just below the surface. Stress, the number one factor behind killer diseases like heart disease, cancer, cirrhosis, etc., can also change our brain chemistry and our body composition.

“Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days, when our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.” — Twenty-One Pilots, Stressed Out

Frank Talk

A few years ago, the National Institute on Aging ran a study on stress and cortisol levels.

What they found is that the people who had higher cortisol in the evening had lower brain function. Those who had more cortisol in the morning had higher brain function. The amount of cortisol in the body had a direct effect on cognitive function. What’s more, the amount of cortisol in the body affected waist girth.

And there’s more…

In 2011, a team of researchers at MIT located the part of the brain responsible for decision-making. They discovered that, after the brain had been continually exposed to stress, the ability to define the risks vs. the benefits of our actions becomes diminished.

That same decision-making part of our brain is also responsible for mood control, motivation, habit formation, and reward reinforcement.

Think about it… are you more likely to smoke or drink when stressed? Are you more likely to overeat? Or skip the gym? Or sidestep responsibilities? Likely, you’ve answered yes to one or more of those questions.

You’re more likely to make different decisions when you’re “stressed out.”

Stress is no laughing matter, and it’s nothing to “accept” about your daily grind.

“When you find yourself stressed, ask yourself one question: Will this matter in 5 years from now? If yes, then do something about the situation. If no, then let it go.” — Catherine Pulsifer

Make Some Ch-ch-ch-changes

If you’re feeling terrible, stressed out, and can’t figure out why, you likely have a cortisol problem.

First, it’s a great idea to make an appointment with your general practitioner and request a Diurnal Salivary Cortisol Check. This is a test your doctor can run to determine if your cortisol levels are an issue. This also informs other hormonal responses in your body.

Second, add in some supplements to your daily routine. Here are a few I like:

  • Holy basil
  • Relora Supplements
  • L-Theanine

Third, take a look at your life, and change what you can to make it more joyful. Add in some self-care activities as well:

  • Meditate
  • Pray
  • Exercise (but not too hard)
  • Avoid highly processed foods (these cause hormonal disruption)
  • Remove yourself from toxic situations
  • Get adequate sleep

All of these things will help you lower stress, thereby protecting your brain volume and keeping your belly smaller.

Let’s Recap

Your stress level and your body’s response to that stress create cortisol.

Too much cortisol packs on the pounds and inhibits brain function.

Control cortisol to burn the belly fat and maintain brain function.

I challenge you to institute one or more of the changes I suggested above. I promise you’ll be healthier, happier, lighter, and more joyful. Who doesn’t want that?

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