Sure, you may be ‘stressed’, but did you know that there are actually different types of stress pictures that we see in Eve Stress & Adrenal Test results, and that each has a different impact on your body, mind and ability to cope?
These stress types are defined by your daily cortisol pattern - a pattern that is made from the 4-5 cortisol samples that you’ll collect throughout the day.
Cortisol is both our primary stress hormone and day-time hormone. You might have heard of cortisol in a negative light for its role in fat storage, but when produced in the right amounts, it actually plays many beneficial roles in the body.
You can thank cortisol for:
- Helping you wake up in the morning and bounce out of bed;
- Keeping you energised during the day;
- Keeping your blood sugar stable overnight;
- Dampening down inflammation;
- Regulating your immune system; and
- Helping you deal with stress;
So cortisol is not the bad guy. But when our cortisol production goes askew a few stress types can arise.
But what are these stress types you ask? And how might you know if you are facing them?
Lucky for you, we’ve broken down the 4 stress types we see from Stress & Adrenal testing, and the signs associated with them in the body.
Type 1: Up High
The first stress type we see, is consistently higher levels of cortisol throughout the day (and possibly the night too).
When the stress we’re facing is not so much short bursts of panic, but is instead prolonged; relentless and chronic in nature; our stress response has to work overtime. This means our adrenals are receiving frequent orders to produce cortisol which, overtime, can flood our systems with this hormone.
Characteristics of this the ‘up high’ stress type are:
- A slower metabolic rate, breaking down muscle tissue and increasing body fat levels, particularly around the middle.
- Issues with sleep quality, finding it harder to fall asleep or to access the restful deep sleep that is so key for almost every area of our wellbeing.
- Poor memory storage or forgetfulness, through poor quality sleep.
- Disrupted blood sugar levels and dysregulation of blood fats such as cholesterol. (FYI, messed up blood sugars is one of the main things associated with sex hormone imbalances.)
- Decreased libido. And we all want to feel sexy, right?
- Sex hormone imbalances; particularly oestrogen dominance, low progesterone or androgen excess.
Type 2: Drop it Low
The ‘drop it low’ stress type is defined by lower levels of cortisol throughout the day.
Here’s how it goes down: the brain perceives stress and tells our adrenal glands to make cortisol. As mentioned above, if this response becomes a norm due to prolonged or repetitive stress, our cells start to receive lots of cortisol. After a while, your cells will send a message back up to your brain saying “woah dude, we’ve got enough cortisol now! Chill, bro!” So the brain stops telling the adrenal glands to make coritol.
Hmm, not once the cortisol has been used up and there’s no more being made. Remember we need cortisol to be wakeful and energised throughout the day?
You might have heard of this stage referred to as ‘burnout’, ‘HPA-axis dysfunction’, or ‘adrenal fatigue’ (and you’ll see that it’s not so much a case of the adrenals getting ‘tired’, and more a case of the brain not telling them to produce cortisol).
Characteristics of the ‘drop it low’ stress type are:
- A deep, never-lifting fatigue - even after a good, long sleep;
- Pain and stiffness in the body, especially in the morning;
- A suppressed immune system (read: more colds, sniffles, funny tummies and inflammation);
- A tendency towards low blood sugar levels (dizziness, shakiness, feeling light-headed etc) - not great for energy or sex hormone balance;
- Sex hormone and thyroid hormone imbalances.
Type 3: The Renegade
The third stress type we see - the renegade - comes from what we call a ‘dysregulated’ cortisol pattern. This basically means that instead of your cortisol levels peaking in the morning and ebbing away across the day, your cortisol levels are peaking at funky times, such as the afternoon or at night.
Cortisol peaking later in the day can prevent you from being able to wind down or drift off to sleep in the evening, leading to a ‘tired but wired’ kinda vibe.
‘What are the group of people most likely to experience this stress type?’ - You ask? New mothers.
This is because night time can be a particularly stressful time with a new baby in the house. Mum wants to sleep, baby isn’t so keen (and thinks a marathon cry sesh or playing sounds like a much better idea).
Overtime, this can gradually shift a mother’s cortisol pattern; making it higher at night to deal with the regular stress at this time, but lower during the day. Great news for bub, not so much for mum who’s now exhausted during the day yet struggling to sleep at night even when baby does sleep.
Renegade stress type characteristics include:
- Trouble getting going in the morning, often needing a coffee to ‘wake up’;
- Brain fog or drowsiness in the morning, not feeling like they really get going until later on;
- Peaks of energy or focus late in the day;
- Trouble winding down in the evening;
- Issues with sleep - either finding it hard to get to sleep or feeling like sleep is light or not restful.
Type 4: The Cool Curve
The final stress type we see shows nice levels of cortisol levels peaking in the morning - not too high, not too low; just right - and gradually falling away throughout the day. This stress type is indicative that your body is cooly dealing well with the stress it is facing. Yay!
This is the optimal result that we’re looking for, as this pattern allows for:
- Nice, stable energy throughout the day to keep us energised and help us face any challenges that arise;
- Lower cortisol levels in the evening to allow melatonin to take over to ease you into restful sleep overnight.
Finding out exactly where you’re at is key
Depending on your stress type, different types of food, movement, and mindfulness will be best for you.
As the Eve team found out when we tested, it’s pretty hard to guess where you might be - even if you’re very in tune with your body. 3 out of 4 Eve team members who tested got their stress types wrong and have since changed aspects of their diets and routines to better support their bodies.
Testing allows us to know exactly what’s going on, empowering you with knowledge and confidence to make changes that support your health goals, and removing the need for guesswork.