Cortisol is an adrenal hormone that is released by stress.  Stress can be a vague term. High stress levels can be caused by the work we do.  Stress can come from a change in our life that has caused us to worry or be unhappy.  There are certain personality types that have a predisposition to be more stressed.  Not surprising the Type A personality which is ambitious, competitive, impatient and has a strong desire to control, is a high stress personality.  The Type D personality is depressed, disappointed, worried and anxious.  By their nature the Type A and D personalities have a higher stress response to their environment and may release more cortisol and have high blood pressure.  Continuos high stress releases a high amount of cortisol into the blood stream which alters the immune system causing frequent sickness, suppresses digestion, increases glucose in the blood stream, causes more anxiety, depression, headaches, sleep problems, impairs memory, decreases ability to concentrate and causes heart disease.  The high amount of stress releases the cortisol.  If the stress level remains high the cortisol continues to be released. The cortisol causes anxiety and a lack of sleep which impairs the ability to concentrate and that causes more problems at work.  More problems at work causes higher causes higher blood pressure.  High blood pressure effects the way the blood clots, it can cause a stroke, coronary artery disease and damage the kidneys. Cortisol was meant to be a friend.  It was a helper when the fight or flight response was triggered.  It was meant to be released quickly for a short amount of time.  Although our personality may incline us to react with high intensity, we can control our reactions.  New habitual responses can be learned and chosen.  For instance if your normal response when the bills come is to fret and worry until pay day, you can in advance put some money aside in a special account.  When the bills come, you will have already covered them or atleast some of it.  Either way your anxiety level will be lower because you planned in advance.  No doubt happy people release less cortisol.  A John Hopkins, July 9, 2013, research paper, “Don’t Worry, Be Healthy,” states “People with cheerful temperaments are significantly less likely to suffer coronary events such as heart attack or sudden cardiac death.”  For some it may come natural to be happier.  It is however a choice and may take some planning.  It may mean having to choose to stop worrying about a friend’s problem that is not under your control.  Perhaps you have to put up boundaries.  It is hard to stop allowing people free access to you, but in the end you and your relationships will be much happier and healthier.

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