ICARUS Online in the News


At the beginning of the week I was interviewed by a journalist from my local paper the Press and Jornal and talked about the work that me and David Bellamy are doing to help bring change to the military charities sector and also to speed up access to treatment for veterans, uniformed services & their immediate families.

Have a read and please share.

Thanks

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/aberdeenshire/1438690/turriff-based-ex-marine-sets-up-new-helpline-for-former-military-personnel/

What is Consciousness?


I have been fascinated by the human mind for as long as I can remember and in particular, what constitutes consciousness and how does it vary? How does this create and alter our reality? What influences our consciousness and how? There are so many questions that grabbed me early on and lead me to self study at first and then fall into formal learning of the subject.

The study of consciousness can be quite hard work, be it from either psychological or philosophical perspectives. The scientific consideration of states of consciousness that differ from ordinary waking consciousness is a path filled with hazards and booby traps. Tart’s (1975) publication of States of Consciousness was a game changer of the application of the philosophy and the discipline of science itself to a topic too often treated as an outcast within psychological science: Altered states of consciousness. It was Tart who created this term and applied a rigorous discipline of study for many phenomena of consciousness. Although States of Consciousness is widely cited in authoritative studies of consciousness such as that by Farthing (1992), as well as in current examinations of hypnosis and meditation phenomena of consciousness (Holroyd, 2003), unfortunately, the original publication has been out of print. The current edition was produced to provide the need for access to the original work.

In the Introduction Tart describes his book as “transitional” in several ways. One is social. This is because concepts of consciousness (like those of science itself) are based on consensus. We are living in an age in which standards and mores are rapidly shifting, and the process of consensus (as well as its value) is being questioned. A second transition is within the field of psychology itself which has alternated from the study of mind to the study of behavior and may be returning to the study of mind again. Tart’s book may also represent a transition for the author in the sense that in it he reaches out as a theoretician instead of as an experimentalist.

In Chapter One Tart orients the reader to a systems approach to considering states of consciousness. he theorises the necessity of basic awareness and structure in what he calls “discrete states of consciousness (d-SoC)” and identifies processes that are necessary for their stabilisation. he also defines the “discrete altered states of consciousness (d-ASC)” which are different from various baselines of consciousness. Their differences can be identified via ten sub-systems that show variations in d-ASC’s. These are: (1) Exteroception; (2) Interoception; (3) Input-Processing; (4) Memory; (5) Subconscious; (6) Emotions; (7) Evaluation and Decision Making; (8) Space/Time Sense; (9) Sense of Identity; and (10) Motor Output. Tart explains how one transitions from a discrete state to consciousness to an altered state through an interaction of disrupting forces and patterning forces.

In Chapter Two he focuses on the components of Consciousness which are Awareness, Energy, and Structure, and painstakingly sets up experiential criteria for detecting an altered state of consciousness. he reminds the reader that many structures interact simultaneously in the human being. The third chapter is devoted to examining conservative and radical views of the mind, with the former dedicated to the proposition that all mental activity is generated by the brains activity, while the latter admits to other influences upon the brain that come from outside the organism. Tart, the scientist, tells us: “I do not like the radical view” (p. 32). The radical view of consciousness runs contrary to all of what has been considered rational in nineteenth and twentieth century empirical science. The scientist who questions it faces the risk of being discredited within the field. Chapter Four examines ordinary states of consciousness in great detail, and Chapter Five defines discrete states of consciousness, explores how they may be mapped, and ties them to Tart’s operational concepts of ego states.

In Chapter Six the author explains how states of consciousness are stabilised, and in Chapter Seven he examines the induction of the altered states of going to sleep, hypnosis, and meditation. A very lengthy Chapter Eight scrutinises each of the subsystems set up in Chapter One in great detail, and Chapter Nine treats the topic of individual differences. Tart regards their inadequate recognition as a methodological deficiency that has retarded the progress of psychological science.

In the tenth chapter the use of drugs to induce altered states of consciousness is introduced, and in Chapter Eleven the author concentrates in the observation of internal states and introduces his operational concept of the Observer. This Observer is not a hidden one at all. It sounds very much like the rational, observing ego, postulated by Sterba (1934), that arises in the development of a therapeutic alliance. The next chapter expands on the complexity of consciousness states by dealing with various Identity States and considering how important they can be as adaptive, stabilising factors for discrete states of consciousness and ultimately, for the organism. Chapter Thirteen re-visits the systems approach in greater depth and presents certain useful strategies such as merging two discrete states of consciousness.

In Chapter Fourteen the author introduces measurements of the depth of states of consciousness; in Chapter Fifteen, State Specific Communication, and in the final chapters of the book discusses State Specific Science, and Higher States of Consciousness.

It is in the Chapters Eighteen, Nineteen, and Twenty, which comprise section Two of this book, that the author speculates on the implications of the five basic principles held in common by Physics and Psychology. This leads to a serious consideration of how our beliefs may alter reality. Tart confronts us with the proposition, held by so many religions and spiritual practices, that ordinary consciousness is a state of illusion, and he asks whether there may be some way “out of it” for us; that is, some way to live within the conflicting worlds and paradigms of our states of consciousness without reducing our own sense of being to the limits of the ordinary states. he explains that the experiences of altered states of consciousness, the dismantling of some of our cherished structures, and the practice of non-attachment can be helpful. Tart ends this book with the statement of the challenge that Western psychology faces: “…to apply the immense power of science and our other spiritual traditions, East and West, to search for a way out” (p. 286).

Are there any drawbacks to this book? The fact that it is information dense and requires close reading and reflection will make this quite heavy reading for anyone looking for “sound bites for the mind.” However, this is not a book intended for those who are not serious students of states of consciousness. Tart has used both acronyms and diagrams in his attempts to convey his complex concepts. At times I found it more difficult to keep track of the acronyms than it would have been to simply see the words spelled out in full, and quite a challenge at times to decipher the diagrams over and above understanding the text itself.

The re-publication of this classic work fills a genuine need in the scientific community. We live in the world of alternative therapies and shifting paradigms. Tart offers genuine ways for studying consciousness. he weds rigorous science and good logic in a systematised examination of consciousness and altered states of consciousness that is now a standard reference in studies. Studies of Consciousness remains a seminal source for those who scientifically study altered states of consciousness such as hypnosis, meditative states, mystical experiences, sleep, dreaming, non-local phenomena, Ego State Therapy, dissociative phenomena, and peak performance. It is a fascinating read and is a must for anyone studying consciousness and the varying fields allied to it.

References

  • Farthing, G. W. (1992). The psychology of consciousness. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Holroyd, J. (2003). The science of meditation and the state of hypnosis. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 46(2), 109-128.
  • Sterba, R.F. (1934). The fate of the ego in analytic therapy. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 15, 1 17-126
  • Tart, C. T. (1975). States of consciousness. New York: Dutton.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)


One of the most simple and easily learned techniques for relaxation is Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR), a widely-used procedure today that was originally developed by Jacobson in 1939.

The PMR procedure teaches you to relax your muscles through a two-step process. First you deliberately apply tension to certain muscle groups, and then you stop the tension and turn your attention to noticing how the muscles relax as the tension flows away.

Through repetitive practice you quickly learn to recognise—and distinguish—the associated feelings of a tensed muscle and a completely relaxed muscle. With this simple knowledge, you can then induce physical muscular relaxation at the first signs of the tension that accompanies anxiety. And with physical relaxation comes mental calmness—in any situation.

Before practicing PMR, consult with your physician if you have a history of serious injuries, muscle spasms, or back problems, because the deliberate muscle tensing of the PMR procedure could exacerbate any of these pre-existing conditions.

If you continue with this procedure, you do so at your own risk.

There are two steps in the self-administered Progressive Muscle Relaxation procedure:

(a) deliberately tensing muscle groups

(b) releasing the induced tension

This two-step process will be described after you are introduced to the muscle groups.

After learning the full PMR procedure as follows, you will spend about 10 minutes a day maintaining your proficiency by practicing a shortened form of the procedure (given in the next section below). As you practice the short procedure, you will be simultaneously learning cue-controlled relaxation. Ultimately, you will acquire something that will probably become an indispensable part of your daily life, and the initial drudgery of practice will be long-forgotten.

Suggestions for Practice

It is recommended that you practice full PMR twice a day for about a week before moving on to the shortened form (below). Of course, the time needed to master the full PMR procedure varies from person to person.

Here are some suggestions for practice:

Always practice full PMR in a quiet place, alone, with no electronic distractions, not even background music
Remove your shoes and wear loose clothing
Avoid eating, smoking, or drinking. It’s best to practice before meals rather than after, for the sake of your digestive processes
Never practice after using any intoxicants
Sit in a comfortable chair if possible. You may practice lying down, but this increases the likelihood of falling asleep
If you fall asleep, give yourself credit for the work you did up to the point of sleep
If you practice in bed at night, plan on falling asleep before you complete your cycle. Therefore, consider a practice session at night, in bed, to be in addition to your basic practice
When you finish a session, relax with your eyes closed for a few seconds, and then get up slowly. (Orthostatic hypotension—a sudden drop in blood pressure due to standing up quickly—can cause you to faint.) Some people like to count backwards from 5 to 1, timed to slow, deep breathing, and then say, “Eyes open. Supremely calm. Fully alert.”

Muscle Groups

You will be working with most all the major muscle groups in your body, but for convenience you will make a systematic progression from your feet upwards. Here is the most popular recommended sequence:

Right foot
Right lower leg and foot
Entire right leg
Left foot
Left lower leg and foot
Entire left leg
Right hand
Right forearm and hand
Entire right arm
Left hand
Left forearm and hand
Entire left arm
Abdomen
Chest
Neck and shoulders
Face
Note. If you are left-handed, you might want to begin with your left foot, and so on.

Tension–Relaxation Procedure

Step One: Tension. The process of applying tension to a muscle is essentially the same regardless of which muscle group you are using. First, focus your mind on the muscle group; for example, your right hand. Then inhale and simply squeeze the muscles as hard as you can for about 8 seconds; in the example, this would involve making a tight fist with your hand.

Note. Beginners usually make the mistake of allowing muscles other than the intended group to tense as well; in the example, this would be tensing muscles in your right arm and shoulder, not just in your right hand. With practice you will learn to make very fine discriminations among muscles; for the moment just do the best you can.

It can be very frustrating for a beginner to try to experience a fine degree of muscle separation.

Because neglect of the body is an almost universal cultural attitude, it is usually very difficult to begin learning how to take responsibility for body “mechanics.” So take heart and realise that learning fine muscle distinction is in itself a major part of the overall PMR learning process. PMR isn’t just about tension and relaxation—it is also about muscle discernment.

But also relax a bit and realise that no part of the body is an isolated unit; the muscles of the hand, for example, do have connections in the forearm, so when you tense your hand there will always be some small tension occurring in the forearm. When PMR asks that the hand be tensed without tensing the arm, it is really speaking to the “clumsy” beginner who, out of total body ignorance, will unthinkingly tense everything in the whole arm.

So if you accept the fact that you are simply in the beginner phase—rather than perceive yourself as somehow inept—then you can have the patience to discern the fine muscles with practice.

It’s important to really feel the tension. Done properly, the tension procedure will cause the muscles to start to shake, and you will feel some pain.

Note. Be careful not to hurt yourself, as compared to feeling mild pain. Contracting the muscles in your feet and your back, especially, can cause serious problems if not done carefully; i.e., gently but deliberately.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation, stress management

Step Two: Releasing the Tension. This is the best part because it is actually pleasurable. After the 8 seconds, just quickly and suddenly let go. Let all the tightness and pain flow out of the muscles as you simultaneously exhale. In the example, this would be imagining tightness and pain flowing out of your hand through your fingertips as you exhale. Feel the muscles relax and become loose and limp, tension flowing away like water out of a faucet. Focus on and notice the difference between tension and relaxation.

Note. The point here is to really focus on the change that occurs as the tension is let go. Do this very deliberately, because you are trying to learn to make some very subtle distinctions between muscular tension and muscular relaxation.

Stay relaxed for about 15 seconds, and then repeat the tension-relaxation cycle. You’ll probably notice more sensations the second time.

The Full PMR Schedule

Once you understand the muscle groups and the tension-relaxation procedure, then you are ready to begin the full PMR training. Simply follow the list of muscle groups in the sequence given and work through your entire body. Practice twice a day for a week. Spend extra time, if necessary, until you can achieve a deep sense of physical relaxation; then you can move on to the Shortened PMR schedule.

The Shortened PMR Schedule

In the shortened form of PMR, you will (a) work with summary groups of muscles rather than individual muscle groups, and (b) begin to use cue-controlled relaxation.

The summary muscle groups. The four summary muscle groups are as follows:

Lower limbs
Abdomen and Chest
Arms, Shoulders, and Neck
Face
Instead of working with just one specific part of your body at a time, focus on the complete group. In Group 1, for example, focus on both legs and feet all at once.

Cue-controlled relaxation. Use the same tension-relaxation procedure as full PMR, but work with the summary groups of muscles. In addition, focus on your breathing during both tension and relaxation. Inhale slowly as you apply and hold the tension. Then, when you let the tension go and exhale, say a cue word to yourself (below). This will help you to associate the cue word with a state of relaxation, so that eventually the cue word alone will produce a relaxed state.

Many people find that cue-controlled relaxation does not have to depend on only one word; it may actually be more helpful in some situations to use a particular phrase. Some suggestions for cue words/phrases are:

Relax
Let it go
It’s OK
Stay calm
All things are passing
Trust in yourself

Summary

Initially, you should practice the shortened form of PMR under the same conditions as you practiced full PMR. After about a week of twice-daily practice you will then have enough proficiency to practice it under other conditions and with distractions. Or you might want to move on to the final process of Deep Muscle Relaxation.

The Effects of Cortisol On our Mind and Body


Depression

Over the last few months, I have been working more and more with stressed out people. I have been stunned at the age range to be honest as they have ranged from 10 – 80 years old.

I began to notice the increase early this year when many people started being made redundant in the Oil and Gas Industry in Aberdeen, where I am based. The downturn has created a huge amount of uncertainty which has lead to people feeling nervous, anxious, stressed and depressed and the knock on effects are quite significant. Many of my clients this year, on top of the initial stress have become insomniacs, they have either lost or gained large amounts of weight, have unexplained aches and pains, erratic mood swings, failed relationships…the list goes on.

This turns into a vicious circle, because the initial cause of the stress is still there and then the additional physical, mental and emotional symptoms add more stress into the mix and obviously compound the whole situation.

I have also recently started working with schools in Aberdeenshire running Stress Perception Workshops for both staff and pupils. It seems that the Curriculum for Excellence is creating and excellently high level of stress for all concerned and some pupils are becoming more and more stressed, depressed, suicidal and some resorting to self harming.

The self harming has also become something of a trend and there is a certain element of peer pressure to conform, and as you can imagine, this pressure is highly stressful for someone who really has no desire to self harm in the first place, yet in order to fit in they feel they have to run with the herd. This level of stress is extremely detrimental to the pupils ability to focus, concentrate, learn and absorb in formation and to remember it, this then adds more stress because they either feel they can’t pass they exams or they actually fail them. Pressure upon pressure upon pressure, until they break.

So after doing much reading, I have written this post today that I hope will help some of you to some degree or other and/or, perhaps help you help someone else.

STRESS
The stress hormone, cortisol, is a sneaky, insidious little bugger that creeps up on you. Even low levels over a long period of time can have hugely detrimental affects on your entire system of body and mind. Scientists have known for years that increased cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease… and the list is significantly longer.

Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels are also responsible for an increased risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy. Recently two separate studies were published in Science linking elevated cortisol levels as a potential trigger for mental illness and decreased resilience—especially in adolescence.

You can find research papers here:
http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Stress%20and%20mental%20illness&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

Our body releases cortisol through the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress as part of our fight-or-flight mechanism. The fight-or-flight mechanism is part of the general adaptation syndrome defined in 1936 by Canadian biochemist Hans Selye of McGill University in Montreal. He published his findings in a short seventy-four line article in Nature, in which he defined two types of “stress”: eustress (good stress) and distress (bad stress).

Both eustress and distress release cortisol as part of this general adaption syndrome. As soon as our fight or flight alarm system signals our body to release cortisol, your body becomes mobilised and ready for action, however, there has to be a physical release of fight or flight. Otherwise, cortisol levels build up in the blood which wreaks havoc on your mind and body.

Eustress creates a “seize-the-day” heightened state of arousal, which is exciting, invigorating and often linked with an achievable goal. Cortisol returns to normal when we’ve completed the task. Distress, or free floating anxiety, doesn’t provide any outlet for the cortisol and causes the fight-or-flight mechanism to backfire. Ironically, our own biology, which was designed to insure our survival as hunters and gatherers, is actually sabotaging our own bodies and minds in this sedentary, technology oriented age. So what can we do to put the pin back in this socially engineered hand grenade?

Fortunately, there are a few simple lifestyle choices you can make that will help you to reduce your stress, anxiety and lower your cortisol levels. Below are some tips to help you reduce your cortisol levels:

1. Regular Exercise: Martial arts and any martial arts based exercise classes, boxing, sparring, or a punching bag are fantastic ways to recreate the “fight” response by letting out aggression (without beating the crap out of anyone) and to reduce cortisol.
Any aerobic activity, like walking, jogging, swimming, biking etc are great ways to recreate the ‘flight’ outlet and burn-up cortisol.  A little bit of cardio goes a long way. Just 20-30 minutes of activity most days of the week pays huge dividends by lowering cortisol every day and in the long term.

I recommend a short burst of HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training. There are an abundance of training methods under this banner and you can find a host of them on Youtube. This gets your heart rate up high, gives minimal rest and puts your body and mind under pressure. The pay off is that your body also releases endorphins which make you feel good, so this is a form of Eustress (good stress) and is highly beneficial for you both physically and mentally.

Fear increases cortisol. Regular physical activity will decrease fear by increasing your self-confidence, resilience, and fortitude, which will reduce your cortisol levels. Yoga will have similar benefits with added benefits of mindfulness training.

If your schedule is too hectic to squeeze in a continuous exercise session, you can build up the same benefits by breaking daily activity into smaller doses. A simple way to guarantee regular activity is to build your normal routine activity into your daily exercise routine. Where possible start riding a bike to work, walking to the shops and walk at lunchtime, this also gets you out of the office and away from your desk and will get you thinking about other things instead of work. Use the stairs instead of the escalator or the lift.If you normally eat your lunch at your desk, maybe you could go to the gym at lunchtime and eat your lunch at your desk afterwards instead. All these things will add up and help you to reduce your cortisol levels throughout the day.

2. Mindfulness and Self Hypnosis: Any type of meditation will reduce anxiety and lower cortisol levels. Simply taking a few deep breaths engages the Vagus nerve which triggers a signal within your nervous system to slow heart rate, lower blood pressure and decreases cortisol. The next time you feel yourself in a stressful situation that activates your ‘Fight-or-Flight’ response take 10 deep breaths and feel your entire body relax, calm down and slow down.

Setting aside 5-15 minutes to practice mindfulness meditation or self hypnosis will develop a sense of calm throughout your nervous system, mind, and brain. There are many different types of meditation. “Meditating” doesn’t have to be a sacred or tree huggey experience. I’m often asked as to specifically what kind of meditation or self hypnosis do I use and how do I do it/use it. There are so many techniques/methods and to be honest it is best to explore and find what works for you and then refine it and make it your own. I suggest that you do more research, and fine-tune a daily meditation/self hypnosis routine that fits your schedule and personality.

3. Social Connectivity: Two studies have been published in the journal Science illustrate that social agression and isolation lead to increased levels of cortisol in mice that trigger a cascade of potential mental health problems—especially in adolescence.

Follow the link here to find theses papers and many more:
http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Social%20aggression%20and%20isolation&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins established that elevated levels of cortisol in adolescence change the expression of numerous genes linked to mental illness in some people. They discovered that these changes in young adulthood, which is a crucial time for brain development, could cause severe mental illness in those predisposed to it. These findings, reported in the January 2013 journal Science, could have wide-reaching implications in both prevention and treatment of schizophrenia, severe depression and other mental illnesses.

Akira Sawa, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and his team set out to simulate social isolation associated with the difficult years of adolescence in human teens. They found that isolating mice known to have a genetic predisposition for mental illness during their adolescence triggered ‘abnormal behaviours’ that continued even when returned to the group. They found that the effects of adolescent isolation lasted into the equivalent of mouse adulthood.

https://bbrfoundation.org/scientific-council/akira-sawa

“We have discovered a mechanism for how environmental factors, such as stress hormones, can affect the brain’s physiology and bring about mental illness,” says Sawa, the study leader. “We’ve shown in mice that stress in adolescence can affect the expression of a gene that codes for a key neurotransmitter related to mental function and psychiatric illness. While many genes are believed to be involved in the development of mental illness, my gut feeling is environmental factors are critically important to the process.”

To shed light on how and why some mice got better, Sawa and his team studied the link between cortisol and the release of dopamine. Sawa says the new study suggests that we need to think about better preventative care for teenagers who have mental illness in their families, including efforts to protect them from social stressors, such as neglect. Meanwhile, by understanding the flood of events that occurs when cortisol levels are elevated, researchers may be able to develop new compounds to target tough-to-treat psychiatric disorders with fewer side effects.

In another study, published on January 18, 2013 in the journal Science researchers from France revealed that mice who were subjected to aggression, by specific mice bred to be ‘bullies’ released cortisol which triggered a response that led to social aversion to all other mice. The exact cascade of neurobiological changes was complex but also involved dopamine. The researchers found that if they blocked the cortisol receptors that the ‘bullied’ mice became more resilient and no longer avoided their fellow creatures.

Close knit human bonds, whether it be family, friendship or a romantic partner, are vital for your physical and mental health at any age.  Recent studies have shown that the Vagus nerve also responds to human connectivity and physical touch to relax your parasympathetic nervous system.

The “tend-and-befriend” response is the exact opposite to “fight-or-flight”. The “tend-and-befriend” response increases oxytocin and reduces cortisol. Make an effort to spend real face-to-face time with loved ones whenever you can, however, even phone calls and Facebook can reduce cortisol if they foster a feeling of genuine connectivity.

4. Have Fun and Laugh Often: Having fun and laughing reduces cortisol levels. Dr. William Fry is an American psychiatrist who has been studying the benefits of laughter for the past 30 years and has found links to laughter and lowered levels of stress hormones. Many studies have shown the benefits of having a sense of humor, laughter and levity. Try to find ways in your daily life to laugh and joke as much as possible and you’ll lower cortisol levels. Watch your favourite comedy movie, favourite comedian or anything on Youtube for example that makes you laugh, feel good and happy, as this will begin to reduce your cortisol levels.

5. Music: Listening to Music that you love, and fits whatever mood you’re in, has been shown to lower cortisol levels. We all know the power of music to improve mood and reduce stress. Add reducing your cortisol levels as another reason to keep the music playing as a soundtrack of health and happiness in your life.

6. Quality Nutrition: What we eat and the quality of that food is important when life is good and we’re happy and content. When life throws a curve ball at you and you’re stressed, depressed, anxious and nervous, it is even more important to eat high quality nutrition.

Society has change much in recent years and life and work is becoming faster paced, we often look for the quick, easy and convenient option for food which is not necessarily the best option. So, to combat this, it is beneficial for you to look at high quality nutritional supplements that help to keep the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety at bay. When you feel good on the inside it makes you much more capable of dealing with the stresses of the outside world and one of the downsides of eating too much wheat, soft drinks, caffeine, alcohol etc, is that it puts your body’s PH out of balance and leads you into an acidic state. When your body is too acidic it promotes the growth of unhealthy bacteria, virus, fungus etc in your gut and causes joint pain and inflammation of muscles, tendons and ligaments. Also our gut becomes unable to fully and efficiently absorb the nutrients from the food we eat, which further runs down our immune system and metabolism.

When you redress that balance and return it to a slightly alkaline state, as you can see in the image below, our bodies return to a state of equilibrium that allows our gut to absorb nutrients efficiently and effectively which means we get everything we need to stay in the optimum state of health.

PH Range

Conclusion
The ripple effect of a fearful, isolated and stressed out society increases cortisol levels across the board for all of us and this creates a public health crisis and a huge drain on the economy. So, if we all work individually, and together, to reduce cortisol our levels we will all benefit and we will reduce the amount of stress hormones flowing around in our society and in individual lives.

In short, when we feel socially connected, safe, and self-reliant it reduces our cortisol levels. I hope the top tips presented above will help you make lifestyle choices that reduce your own levels of stress hormone and help you to help your friends, family work colleagues and perhaps even some strangers to reduce theirs and feel happier and healthier.

References:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1

http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Stress%20and%20mental%20illness&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Social%20aggression%20and%20isolation&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

https://bbrfoundation.org/scientific-council/akira-sawa

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201312/why-is-the-teen-brain-so-vulnerable