Understanding Adrenaline Rush
The key chemical that kick-starts the stress response is adrenaline. Its role as a hormone is to put the body on red alert and flood it with as much energy as possible to achieve maximum strength and brainpower. It is this effect that makes adrenaline so appealing – because that rush of energy makes you feel fantastic. In a split second adrenaline brings in huge amounts of oxygen by changing the way you breathe and by diverting existing energy supplies from elsewhere in the body. Adrenaline works to deadlines: the more immediate the deadline, the greater its ability to get the body moving and thinking. This is a good thing – in fact, it is a great thing because it can get you out of danger fast. However, adrenaline is only designed to be released in short, sharp doses. There is nothing wrong with putting your body on maximum output but the longer the output of adrenaline is sustained, or the more regularly it occurs, the greater the wear and tear on your body and the faster the drain on energy supplies. High levels of stimulation require high levels of body maintenance and energy production, and too much stimulation for too long, without a break, is unsustainable.
The stress response is designed to run to a time scale. Get the benefit, solve the problem, finish the task, get the reward and then stop to restore and refresh. Adrenaline is there at the start of a stress response to help you make a fast decision on the best way to act. Therefore, in order to work with the stress response, decisions need to be made quickly. A good deal of stress and anxiety is the result of indecision. If your body is unable to switch off your stress response because you are unable to decide how to resolve the problem, then your energy resources will run very low.
If you have a problem making decisions it is useful to recognize that deciding not to act or postponing the action is still a decision. If weighing up a decision is making you unhappy or causing you anxiety and stress, you need to take time out to relax. Switching off the stress response, even momentarily, will give your body time to rejuvenate energy supplies and calm your mind to help you see the problem more rationally. When you reactivate your stress response, a fresh flow of adrenaline will help you act with greater effect.