What is adrenaline and what is the relationship with stress and burnout?
in Stress

What is adrenaline and what is the relationship with stress and burnout?

What’s adrenaline? Adrenaline is a stress hormone, just like cortisol and norepinephrine. This hormone is produced in the adrenal glands. In this article we will discuss what adrenaline is and what it does to your body. You can also read about the advantages and disadvantages of this substance and how you can reduce the amount of adrenaline in your body.

When will adrenaline be released?

Adrenaline is produced in your body when your body is in danger. This is not just about issues of life and death. This also applies to situations when you experience a lot of stress. This can be in situations when you are very busy, but also when you are very angry, very scared, or when you are exercising very hard. In all these cases the adrenaline substance is released.

How does adrenaline work?

Adrenaline is what makes us survive. Among other things, it ensures that we can react immediately, in a fraction of a second. This can be very useful if we have to dive out the way of something about to hit or fall on us. Or, if we are standing on a ladder and get out of balance, we can quickly grab the rails or something else because otherwise we will fall off the ladder. Adrenaline enables you to react very quickly if necessary and thus fulfils a very important function.

Adrenaline is also produced when the body thinks it is in danger. If you watch a very exciting film or read a book, your body is not exactly in danger. Nevertheless, the body can experience it as such a scary experience that adrenaline is produced. Even if you are in an amusement park in all kinds of rotating rides, you are basically still safe.

Provided, of course, that the appliances comply with safety regulations and inspections. These speeds and movements are not experienced by your brain as normal, so your body starts to produce adrenaline out of ‘instinct’. And finally, think of the more extreme sports such as bungee jumping, skydiving, parachuting. The feeling you get then, is largely caused by this special substance adrenaline.

Adrenaline and stress and burnout

What does adrenaline do to your body?

So adrenaline ensures that our body is ready to take action. But how does adrenaline regulate this? What happens in the body that allows us to take action so quickly?

Adrenaline is the first thing that makes our hearts beat faster. As a result, blood is pumped around more quickly in our body, causing the blood pressure to (temporarily) increase. This is very useful, because more oxygen and energy (glucose) is transported to the muscles, which enables us to act more powerfully and faster.

Adrenaline also makes our brains work more effectively. It improves our ability to think so that we can concentrate better. Another advantage of a better functioning brain is that it makes us more alert. The brain is even able to process more impressions of what your eyes are seeing at that moment!

Is adrenaline good for you?

It is very convenient that you can react very quickly when a bus comes charging. Because your body is ready for action, you make sure you are on time. Adrenalin is what keeps your body healthy!

Is adrenaline bad for you?

Adrenaline is bad if it’s present all the time. The body is then in a constant state of readiness (also called fighting or fleeing). This is dangerous because it can disrupt the hormonal system and cause many body complaints. It causes stress and can eventually lead to burn-out.

Consequences of too much adrenaline

When the body is in a stressful situation for too long, only the most important bodily functions are maintained. All organs that are not involved in ‘survival’ are put in the ‘waiting function’. This can have very nasty consequences for the body.

Consider, for example, the fact that body cells are normally renewed every day, day after day, hour after hour. All the building blocks of your skin, muscles, bones and organs are maintained in this way. Adrenaline stops this process, so that your blood no longer circulates well to your skin, wounds heal less well, muscle mass is broken down and bines become more brittle.

A typical ‘adrenaline situation’ is running away from danger. When you do this, digesting food, for example, is not important. You have to survive! To do so, your body uses the existing supplies. No wonder you can get abdominal pain from stress!

Another disadvantage for which adrenaline is responsible is that the body temporarily puts less or no energy into the digestive system. As a result, the energy that enters the body through eating and drinking is less well digested and stored earlier in the form of fat reserves.

Adrenaline and stress and burnout

Other common complaints are:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Stomach and intestinal complaints
  • Very restless feeling
  • Sweaty hands
  • Hyperventilation
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches and tinnitus
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Cramp in your legs
  • Have to pee more often

How does adrenaline work?

Adrenaline and stress

The need to reduce the amount of adrenaline in your body will be obvious. Although adrenaline can make you feel fine, in the long run it will be counterproductive with unpleasant consequences. Pay attention to your recovery. Treat yourself more like a top athlete who needs to be healthy and fit. This means not only being physically rested, but also looking for mental relaxation.

You don’t have to lie down in your bed for this, in fact, in your bed there is a good chance that you will start to become weary and adrenaline will be produced. Look for relaxation by taking a walk in a natural environment, looking for nice company (social contacts) or reading a simple book you don’t have to think about.

By the way, a bit of running also works very well! This produces endorphins, which lower the adrenaline level.

When the amount of adrenaline in your body decreases, you may experience a certain degree of listlessness. This is normal. After a period in which your body has been “on” continuously, the body also has a “down” phase.

Your body has to get used to a new situation again, without being stimulated by an excess of adrenaline. This feeling of lethargy will go away after some time, which will bring your body and mind back into balance.

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Training and coaching

Milltain provides training and coaching for private individuals and organisations. Our team consists of 35 coaches and trainers who have now helped thousands of people struggling with stress and burnouts.

Milltain for private individuals:

Are you stuck in life because of stress or a burnout? We developed an effective online programme that is fully focused on the complete recovery from a burnout. More than 2000 people have successfully completed this training!

Movement and nature play prominent roles in this training. Recovery is a process that contains peaks and troughs, and that’s something we know all about. Our highly experienced coaches provide you with active support.

Learn more: Stress and burnout coaching

Milltain for organisations:

With the help of a team of experienced trainers, Milltain supports organisations in the prevention of stress and the (re) finding of work happiness in the workplace. A single burnout can easily cost an organisation € 70,000 (or more!)

In addition to financial suffering, the human suffering is great. Not only for the employee but also for close colleagues who have to deal with the blows. Before long, you find yourself in a negative vicious circle.

Get long-term absence and stress among employees under control with the help of our highly effective team training via Zoom or a similar tool.

This training has proven to be an international success for both managers (leadership skills) and employees (dealing with stress).

Learn more: Online team training

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About the author
My name is Ruud Meulenberg. Owner and founder of Milltain and Meulenberg Training & Coaching.
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