Hopefully when you think about what fuels you things like food, exercise, love and sleep come to mind. These are the premium fuels that support your long-term health — physically, emotionally and spiritually.
There is another fuel out there that is being used more often today. Adrenaline is a source of fuel that provides you with an intense burst of energy. It helps you to get through challenging situations.
Adrenaline is highly used in today’s society where there is a push to be busy, productive, moving, accomplishing, starting, completing, doing. Unfortunately, depending on adrenaline to motivate you ultimately puts your health at risk.
The effects of adrenaline are not commonly known and many of us are unaware that we even use adrenaline as an energy source.
The Role of Adrenaline in your Body
Adrenaline is produced by the adrenal glands — situated on the top of your kidneys. Adrenaline is known as a fight or flight hormone because it tells the central nervous system to prepare your body for the extra effort required to meet danger, cope with stress or carry out a difficult task.
When there is a surge of adrenaline, your heart beats faster and stronger raising your blood pressure. At the same time, blood vessels near the surface of the skin and in the gut are constricted causing more of the blood flow to go to your heart and your large muscles preparing you to run or fight.
The problems of Adrenaline Overload
- Adrenaline causes blood pressure to rise, which can lead to heart disease because the heart muscle gets over worked.
- Digestive disorders result from inefficient blood, nutrient and oxygen in the digestive organs.
- Skin may suffer from lack of nutrient because the blood is not flowing to the surface. Skin cells can dry out, wrinkle and become less healthy.
- Adrenal glands are part of the endocrine system. The endocrine system regulates growth, metabolism and sexual activity among other things. When the adrenal glands work overtime, it causes imbalances that affect the entire endocrine system. Obviously, an imbalance of the endocrine system can affect your health on many levels.
Clearly operating on adrenaline is not healthy. It is however, a pervasive challenge in today’s society.
There are many things you might do in the course of a day that cause your adrenal glands to kick into gear.
To get a sense of what it is like to run on adrenaline, imagine with detail, being stuck in traffic when you are late for an appointment. Notice the sensations in your body and the effect on your breath. Take in the emotional tone of the experience. This is an adrenaline rush.
If this experience is very familiar, you might want to start thinking about the long-term effects of adrenaline.
When Adrenaline Becomes a Habit
Just like relying on that cup of coffee to get you going every morning, you might start to rely on adrenaline and you find yourself increasing your tolerance to it.
Adrenaline is tricky because unlike coffee, you don’t have to consume it. It’s when you choose to replay the tape in your mind that covers the details of how furious you were when… Just let your mind enter that fight or flight place and your body will automatically pump it out.
The trick is to notice the sensations and make the choice to take charge of what fuels you.
Like any other habit, quitting an adrenaline habit is not easy. Adrenaline can be exhilarating and its effects can entice you into believing that it is a positive source of fuel.
While living from fear and anger is commonly used as a source of motivation, curbing that tendency is a healthy choice. Your first step is to become aware of the sensations that tell you that you have adrenaline rushing through your body.
How to Reduce Adrenaline
Once you have noticed it, start taking slow, deep breaths. You might want to think, feel or visualize that you are allowing the adrenaline to diffuse out of your body.
Allow your heart rate to slow, your belly to soften, even feel your skin expanding. When you feel grounded, like calmness has entered your body, decide if there is some healthier fuel you could be using.
The premium fuels include healthy foods, exercise, love, meditation and sleep. When was the last time you ate? How could you access a healthy snack? Perhaps you can feel that the adrenaline is stuck in your muscles, you’re antsy and you need to move. Get some exercise. Stretch, walk, run down the road and back — full speed.
Maybe you sense that there is something that needs to be said. Allow yourself to seek connection. Mindfully express your concerns. Ask for a hug if you need it. You might ask a friend to support you by listening to your thoughts and helping you figure out what you need to say and to whom. Find a compassionate way to speak your mind.
Finally, if it is rest that you need, plan for it. Decide how soon you can take a break. Is the quality of your work suffering because you are not rested? Maybe you can set a timer and allow yourself a 20 minute nap, spend 5 minutes meditating, get to bed early and decide to start early the next day.
Look for the possibilities that are available beyond relying on adrenaline. Remember to support your long-term health by being aware of what fuels you!