Does it just seem like we need more than 24 hours in a day? I often think if I had eight more hours in a day that I could get so much more done. I realize this is an illusion and, in reality, the items on my list are never-ending. But for some reason the cultural message is that we are superhumans. We can do it all, get everything done, and look good while doing it.
I see this illusion in my patients. Many deal with chronic stress. Initially, the stress is addicting. It feels good to have adrenaline coursing through our bodies. Many of us find identity and identify accomplishments by how busy we are.
Unfortunately, there's a downside to this behavior. Chronic stress taxes the endocrine system and creates a constant stream of cortisol, a stress hormone excreted by the adrenal glands. This initially provides strength to get through an emergency situation, but frequent signals to the system can cause a cortisol imbalance leading to weight gain, reproductive issues, insomnia, chronic inflammation and digestive disorders. This can eventually manifest into chronic illnesses such as heart disease, metabolic syndrome, depression, autoimmunity and chronic fatigue.