Hissy Fit - July 2022 - Meet Cortisol: The Stress Hormone That’s Stressful

...because everyone needs one every once in awhile


July 2022 Issue
by Elizabeth Skenes Millen


I don’t know if you’re mad about it but I am. I’m not talking about high gas prices,
I’m talking about Cortisol. I know no one else is talking about Cortisol, but Lord knows they should be. Why? Because it is out of control and making us sick and tired—
and you thought it was politics!

How is it fair in anyway that Cortisol, the stress hormone, gets to be in charge of abdominal fat? It’s like a tyrant running around to every organ in your body, which has to be tip-toed around to keep from punishing us. One study in Sweden monitored stressed-out men and determined those with the highest cortisol levels also had the biggest beer bellies.

Well, duh! The group was picked for their high stress levels and beer guts. Did anyone think they weren’t downing cold beers on the reg? You would think Cortisol would be our friend and come to the rescue when we are experiencing unabashed stress. But no, Cortisol is like, “You’re stressed out so I’m going to make your stomach fat and give you Type 2 diabetes.”

Thanks a lot, stress hormone.

Hey Cortisol, have you ever thought you may be part of the problem? Because of you, we must all try to limit stress and stressful thinking patterns. We are the ones who have to make a conscious effort to keep you calm. We don’t have to think for our hearts to beat, our lungs to breathe or our livers to filter cold beer, but you, evil Cortisol, have to be handled gently, with kid gloves.

Also, for your benefit, health professionals advise us to get good, quality sleep. But what do you do? Keep us awake. Cortisol, have your considered therapy? It seems to me that you are a self-sabotager. You need sleep, but tell all of our organs to be restless. How is that not stressful?

Honestly, if we all had a choice, you would be fired; you’re just not good at your job. You seem quite confused with your identity, too. You are the stress hormone! YOU are not supposed to be the one freaking out and making bad decisions when WE are stressed out.

And let me tell you, WE ARE STRESSED OUT! The gas prices, the bad lab results—thank you very much—and the abdominal fat! Can’t you see we live in a place that requires wearing a bathing suit at least once a week, almost 10 months out of the year. Northerners can handle you, but you need to figure out an alternative for us Southerners—we don’t wear corduroy, puffy coats, and scarves.

Scarves also make me mad. You know those colorful apparati that women in the north use to to stay warm and hide their double chins, that, by the way, you seem to have such an affinity for? Cortisol, we know you are also are responsible for fatty deposits between our shoulder blades and weight gain in our faces and chins. What are you going for? Our abdomens and chins getting so close they rub a rash on each other ’til they smoke? Has anyone ever told you, “Welcome to the South, now go home?” We really are too hot for scarves, which you should know, since at times you give us so much anxiety even our palms sweat.

So, let me understand your needs. Not only do we need to reduce our calorie intake, sugar intake and day drinking, you—YOU—also demand reducing our cortisol levels, as if you can’t help with that. You are too sensitive and demanding! In order to keep you in control, which one would think is your job, (jus’ pointin’ out the obvi), we must exercise regularly, minimize our stress, sleep like a baby, practice deep breathing exercises, enjoy ourselves, laugh and maintain healthy relationships.

What planet do you come from? Go inhabit people in the Blue Zones, because seriously, do you know how crazy families are in the South? And we are supposed to maintain healthy relationships? There may be a lot to laugh about, but seriously, it just isn’t all that funny. Usually you just laugh to keep from crying—now that’s called stress, and that’s where you’re supposed to step in and help—only somehow along the way you became warped into thinking WE are the cause of YOUR stress and supposed to walk on eggshells around you.

Cortisol, you are weak, weak, weak—only functioning properly under the best conditions. Anyone can do that. When did you even become a part of our great machines called bodies. I’m sure you freaked out when cavemen were picking berries and a T-rex came up behind them. We know. You weren’t there for them either. That’s why we don’t live in caves anymore; you couldn’t handle it.

I’m trying to like you, Cortisol, Mr. Stress Hormone, Mr. Calm Down or I’ll Blow, so instead of telling you you’re tacky and I hate you, I will give your dainty little life a try. But here’s the deal, if you don’t start working on the abdominal fat right away, I’m telling everyone what a bastard you are: “I switched from cheesecake to lettuce, and Cortisol don’t care.” And then, I’m calling Prozac, and you are going down.

Writer’s note: This article is not meant for medical advice in anyway, and if you thought is was, please consider revisiting your high school English teacher.