Responding to challenge: a different way than cortisol

Karina Schreurs
Karina Schreurs, Jun 15 2018, 3 minute readKarina has a cross cultural background working with families through her roles in health and education. Training in Occupational Therapy and post-graduate study in the Neuro-Sequential Model of Therapeutics, Cognition and Sensory Processing, position her to present neurological understanding in an easy, relevant and practical way.

So yesterday I wrote an introduction blog to cortisol around some of my recent learning and wonderings. But today, as I have been thinking more and more about it, I wanted to unpack it at a deeper level.

I know the brain loves to be balanced – it likes to keep it all the same. It does not like threat, fright or the unknown and so each time we find ourselves in those situations (new, novel, scary, emotionally challenged or stretched), then adrenaline is released as I talked about in the previous blog. Adrenaline fires us up to respond, but it’s the next stage that determines our response. Our response determines the next hormone released. If we stay stretched, scared or can’t find anything familiar, then cortisol will be released.  Cortisol is what fires the fight/flight response and the high need for control.

But if we chose something different, like a simple thought of “I am important and significant” (not just the words but really believing it), then serotonin is released. If I believe I can do this, then dopamine will be released. If I reach for someone close with me, then oxytocin will be released. If I simply laugh or move then endorphins are released.

Isn’t it crazy to think a simple change in our response influences the hormone released and, ultimately, how we feel and respond? These simple changes can alter our days and our lives. Simply resting in who we are and believing that, even in the unfamiliar and scary, I can recenter without the need for cortisol (stress), is not only good for our mood, it’s good for our health (hearts, lungs, immune system) and those around us because we won’t be trying to control them.

Many people have linked stress and cortisol, but I believe it can be different.  I dream of people living in worth, believing they can do something, reaching out to others and learning to laugh.  Each of these responses, although so simple, are often the thing we miss in the midst of stress because cortisol is fed through control.  In order to choose these different responses we have to lay down control and judgement and step into who we were always created to be.

You do have enough time. You are more than good enough. You are worthy of love. You can laugh with security when you make mistakes because you are significant.

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