God made our bodies fully equipped with feel-good hormones and with stress hormones that serve to mobilize us in times of threat. Dopamine is released when we accomplish tasks or learn new information. Oxytocin is responsible for the burst of warm fuzzy feelings we get when we share with someone we trust, when we help someone in need and even when we witness love, trust and compassion between others. We are truly wired for safe and compassionate interactions. Serotonin causes the positive sensation from a sense of significance or importance. Last but not least, endorphins give a runner’s high (ahem, to those of you who run) because it is released when we push past our physical limits…and when we eat chocolate.
The stress hormones are adrenaline or norepinephrine and cortisol. Adrenaline prepares us to fight or flee, whereas cortisol keeps us alert and awake and packs on belly fat – ugh!
During this – or any other – time of crisis, it’s important to remember these because it gives us the ability to use the way the Lord made us to find balance and to exercise proper mastery over the gift of our bodies. For example, eating chocolate feels good, but if I crank myself up through too much caffeine that goes along with chocolate, I’ll feel stressed out rather than peaceful. If I so focus on being task-oriented or attentive to the dings of my phone alerts (another source of dopamine hits), I sacrifice nurturing the relationships around me which are, of course, good for their own sakes and provide oxytocin. Sadly, when relationships breakdown, stress increases and often fuels the conflict. The cortisol that is released then actually shuts off oxytocin, reducing feelings of love, trust and friendship and the cycle worsens.
Though many of us are “grounded” for the present, we don’t have to marinate in a bath of adrenaline and cortisol. If we do, we’re likely to grow anxious or to look for unhealthy ways to relieve the anxiety. Self-knowledge, even of how our body works, can empower us to make healthy choices. Let’s shift our paradigm to what we can do. Today, let’s focus on reducing adrenaline, cortisol and boosting oxytocin by plugging into the constant of God’s love, relying on His goodness, wisdom and plan in the present. That doesn’t mean squashing or denying your feelings or fears, but sharing them with Him and knowing that the future is not uncertain. There’s a line in MercyMe’s song Grace Got You, “there ain’t no storm that can change how this ends”. That’s no less true today than it was at the most peaceful moment in your life. God is still good and He’s still for you…and He’s still omnipotent.
MercyMe Grace Got You video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtiUjNT_vAM
Peace and Good!