2

votes

How would you hack your "stress" level?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 23, 2011 at 11:47 AM

We see many ideas in the blogosphere and on various sites speaking of adrenal fatigue and cortisol issues. Some have interesting ideas. Some are just theoretical nonsense. Stress is a huge factor from many people. I know how I quantify it but I am interested in learning how others think about this issue. Please give me your go to if you have one.

I have a clinical battery I use with regularity. But what do you Hackers use as your guidepost? Salivary cortisol levels are a good tool.

In clinical testing some things I look for are poor sleep and energy utilization. When our cortisol level is up it decreases cellular ATP production because of its direct effect on thyroid hormone. It also depletes Magnesium levels and this is why we see poor sleep and bowel functioning with increased muscle pain. Another less known way to asses cortisol without a direct cortisol assay is to look at a basic chem 7 that most CW docs get and check the carbon dioxide level. It is usually low consistently over time. If one happens to draw an arterial blood gas in the hospitalized setting we constantly see low CO2 in stressed patients. We also see a spike in cholesterol production and we see immediate changes in their VAP and sometimes in severe stress we see a dramatic fall in their vitamin D status if we are trending their data.

What are your go too's to assess stress?

Bfa1c9eacfc94a1b62f3a39b574480c6

(3700)

on March 24, 2012
at 02:06 AM

Meredith, I believe I get the puffiness when I get poor sleep. I also agree that I get nauseated, but I'm not entirely sure. It seems when I "run out" of energy, is when the nausea sets in. The crappier the sleep...the faster it comes. I'm not sure how this works though. Usually my sleep is kinda crappy.

A089b683ee0498f2b21b7edfa300e405

(3895)

on July 24, 2011
at 03:19 AM

I guess that is what 'living in the moment' is all about..

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 23, 2011
at 11:45 PM

Sounds like a great practical form of mindfulness meditation. Isn't that an awesome feeling when you develop the courage to just sit with your thoughts and worries, then you get that little space between yourself and your racing thoughts, and suddenly you realize you aren't your worries?

559aa134ff5e6c8bcd608ba8dc505628

(3631)

on July 23, 2011
at 04:59 PM

i kinda think the bad sleep + puffy face thing are related in that they are both symptoms of something else, not that one causes the other. yknowwhatimean? bloodshot eyes too.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 23, 2011
at 02:14 PM

Hmmm, not that I know of. Honestly I really never have stomach issues. next time i'm all stressed out though I'll pay more attention and report back:) here's hoping I don't report for a long time

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on July 23, 2011
at 02:09 PM

I get the puffy face from a bad night's sleep too! Just wondering, do you ever get kind of nauseous if you don't sleep well too?

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5 Answers

3
A089b683ee0498f2b21b7edfa300e405

on July 23, 2011
at 06:10 PM

Stress in life is unavoidable, it happens.. The best thing that I have found to date to deal with it is what I now call ' witnessing'

If some stressful thoughts are repeatedly racing through my mind, if I cannot get to sleep because of them, I just 'watch' these thoughts, just 'witness' what I am feeling. I do NOT stop the thoughts, in fact I welcome them, but I keep watching them coming.

Always, witnessing causes the stressing thoughts to cease and a calm descends.

This is anecdotal, n=1, but this has never failed me even once. So take it FWIW.

A089b683ee0498f2b21b7edfa300e405

(3895)

on July 24, 2011
at 03:19 AM

I guess that is what 'living in the moment' is all about..

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 23, 2011
at 11:45 PM

Sounds like a great practical form of mindfulness meditation. Isn't that an awesome feeling when you develop the courage to just sit with your thoughts and worries, then you get that little space between yourself and your racing thoughts, and suddenly you realize you aren't your worries?

2
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 23, 2011
at 12:27 PM

Having never had bloodwork done and not having a doctor that I see with regularity I use only generally feeling throughout the day and my own judgement of my sleep quality and quantity.

If I am stressed out about something I will usually wake during the night with thoughts about it racing through my head. It helps, I've found, to have a pad and pen to write some of those looming thoughts down, if only to exorcise them from your mind and let you get back to some rest.

Upon waking I can usually tell how well I've slept by assessing:

  • how bloodshot my eyes are
  • how tired or awake I feel
  • how puffy or not puffy my face is
  • unnormal adrenaline/cortisol levels by whether I have an enormous amount of unnatural energy. Like, if you feel extraordinarily awake and alert in the first 30-60 minutes of rising I find that that is a direct result of being super-stressed/shocked and that that amazing alertness is only from the surge in adrenaline/cortisol and NOT from a great quality rest. That spike in energy is super high and usually dives quickly after that 30-60 minutes.

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on July 23, 2011
at 02:09 PM

I get the puffy face from a bad night's sleep too! Just wondering, do you ever get kind of nauseous if you don't sleep well too?

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 23, 2011
at 02:14 PM

Hmmm, not that I know of. Honestly I really never have stomach issues. next time i'm all stressed out though I'll pay more attention and report back:) here's hoping I don't report for a long time

559aa134ff5e6c8bcd608ba8dc505628

(3631)

on July 23, 2011
at 04:59 PM

i kinda think the bad sleep + puffy face thing are related in that they are both symptoms of something else, not that one causes the other. yknowwhatimean? bloodshot eyes too.

Bfa1c9eacfc94a1b62f3a39b574480c6

(3700)

on March 24, 2012
at 02:06 AM

Meredith, I believe I get the puffiness when I get poor sleep. I also agree that I get nauseated, but I'm not entirely sure. It seems when I "run out" of energy, is when the nausea sets in. The crappier the sleep...the faster it comes. I'm not sure how this works though. Usually my sleep is kinda crappy.

1
755d3a18737359da49c5e2167e5f2f63

on July 23, 2011
at 06:01 PM

I am just recovering from very high cortisol. Day by day I can see that I am sleeping deeper and longer, waking less, having more vivid dreams and remembering them better upon waking, I have less fatigue, less brain fog, better memory, the skin on my legs is much softer, less dry, than it was, morning erections are firmer and last longer... All of these are the ways by which I judge my progress. I meditate after breakfast and before bed. I do mini-meditations (mindfulness breathing) when I find myself in line, waiting on transportation, any situation where I would have previously become stressed. I also make sure to go no more than 6 waking hours without food, eat enough calories, and get 150-200g of carbs per day.

1
Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 23, 2011
at 04:39 PM

If I can't sleep then I'm stressed. Period. It used to be bad enough that I could literally not sleep for a couple of days - which in turn would cause other issues.

Lying in bed with wide eyes makes it worse for me, it seems to intensify everything, so I usually jump on my bike and go for a night ride. Helps to clear the mind and focus on what's up. If weather is bad I'll curl up on the couch and write it out. I use a program a friend wrote that allows me to enter in a minimum of 750 words and when saved it will "cloud" the most used words so I can see if there is a pattern. I also keep a dream journal next to the bed and if for any reason I pop up out of sleep will grab and scrawl whatever I can remember but will usually pass back out again. I've used these for years and have kept them all. It's been valuable to go back to see if there are any patterns, read what notes I entered, and see if the dream was just a dream or based off of anything that may be causing anxiety or worry in my life.

If I know a day is going to be a stressful one, or suddenly becomes one, I'll plan my food accordingly and will eat more carbs and food hight in tryptophan as they help make me sleepy. I also these past months take ZMA before bed and no iPad or book. If anything is going on this path, usually, will set me up to get the zzz's that I need to work through the stress. The ZMA has really been a great addition.

1
345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on July 23, 2011
at 01:32 PM

I don't! It would probably just stress me out more!

Sleep is pretty much the most important thing for me (besides eating right), if I don't sleep I tend to feel like a bozo walking around with two left feet, a danger to myself and society!! So I just make it through the day and get that much needed sleep the next night and all is right with the world!!

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