It seems like these days the conflicts around the world are becoming bigger and bigger with more and more people joining one or the other camp. You are either pro or against COVID vaccination, and there seems to be little room for a dialog between the opposing sides. Do we even remember what constructive discussions used to look like, or are we too accustomed to raising our voices and insulting one another? The pagan community isn’t falling much behind. There are those who are loud against and those who are loud for vaccines and/or masks. The options for achieving harmony are either fighting or simply ignoring that topic altogether. But aren’t we forgetting one important thing?
What happened to being at peace with our decision whatever it may be and feeling safe? If you are for vaccination, fine. Vaccinate yourself. If you are against vaccination, fine. Don’t vaccinate yourself. But whatever you do, be prepared to accept the consequences of your decision and stop bullying others to follow in your footsteps. If you do feel the need to convince others that your way is the best way and should be universally accepted, try a bit less yelling and a bit more talking. This text is not meant to convince you to accept or reject the vaccine. I actually have two missions with it. One is to remind you that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Aggression is never the answer, so stop being an asshole. The other (and more important) thing I want to do is educate you that whether you are vaccinated or not, if you are under stress about it and constantly angry, you will get sick for sure. Maybe or maybe not with COVID, but probably with one of thousand other things. Oh, and your chances of catching COVID and having worse symptoms are raising simultaneously with the raising of your voice at someone who disagrees with you. So let’s talk about cortisol…
What is cortisol?
Cortisol – known by its “cute” little nickname stress hormone – is one of the steroid hormones and is made in the adrenal glands (you know, those little triangle beauties at the top of your kidneys). Since most of our bodily cells have cortisol receptors, cortisol therefore affects different functions in the body. While playing a role in a number of things such as managing the use of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, keeping down inflammation, regulating blood pressure, controlling the cycles of sleep/staying awake, and providing boosts of energy, too much cortisol can cause a wide range of problems.
High levels of cortisol lead to lowered immunity, slower inflammatory response, and high risk of frequent infections.
While cortisol is important for your body to function normally and its levels fluctuate during the day (higher in the morning, lowest at night), too much of it is not a good thing. Some of the side effects of increased cortisol levels are increased heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose levels, tension in muscles, respiration problems, changes in libido and menstrual cycles, slowed digestion, decreased bone density, anxiety and depression, bad cognitive performance, thyroid not working properly, and lowered immunity and inflammatory responses.
How is cortisol produced?
Hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain sense if the blood contains the right level of cortisol. When the level is too low, the brain adjusts the amount of hormones it makes. The adrenal glands pick up on those signals, and they produce the right amount of cortisol to release.
When released into the bloodstream, cortisol triggers a flood of glucose that supplies an energy source to large muscles. It inhibits insulin production. It narrows the arteries and together with epinephrine makes the heart pump faster.
Let’s not forget that having cortisol is actually a good thing. When we encounter a threat or a stressful situation, we need more energy, and we need to be focused on the immediate problem that needs to be fixed. The thing today, however, is that we are in a state of constant threats and the hormone levels never return to normal. Since insulin helps the cells convert glucose to energy, the pancreas is struggling to keep up, so the glucose levels in the blood remain high all the time and cells don’t actually get the sugar they need. Now the body is sending signals to the brain that we are hungry. Those are false hunger signals that lead to glucose in the blood being stored as body fat. And here comes weight gain…
While narrowing the arteries for a short while is a good thing, long periods of this state can lead to blood vessel damage and plaque buildup. And here come heart attacks and strokes…
Reducing inflammation is awesome, but too much of a good thing is never a good thing. Elevated levels of cortisol suppress the immune system, we become more susceptible to colds, develop food allergies, risk of cancer becomes higher, and we are more likely to catch one of the contagious illnesses. And here comes COVID…
How to lower cortisol levels?
We are all unique creatures, and what works for one person may not be the right choice for another. You need to find what works best for you, even if it may require a trial and error approach until you find that special method that will decrease stress. “Yeah, but people are not getting vaccinated, and we are all going to die a horrible death while our doctors will be the first to go under all that pressure and the collapse of the medical institutions.” And you think your panicking will help? It won’t. “Yeah, but people are getting vaccinated and spreading COVID while not having the symptoms themselves or even worse, getting horrible side effects from vaccination, and we are all going to die a horrible death either from the virus or from the chips implanted in us.” And you think your panicking will help? It won’t.
When was the last time you woke up in nature? The smell of grass and direct sunlight can do marvelous things for you. Try at least to go on a walk once a week (more often would be even better) in the woods. Have you tried various types of meditation? How about cutting junk food and exercising? Journaling, painting, running, writing… There are so many different ways you could help your mind, body, and soul to be happy and healthy. Pick one. It’s not that hard. Just pick something. Anything.
How do pagans deal with stress?
Want to run naked in the woods? Go for it. Just be sure that you don’t get in the way of Christian families with children happily hiking and minding their own business. You might come as a bit of a shock. 🙂 Crystals help, meditation too, meditation with crystals even better. Try creating amulets, sigils, or consulting your spirit guides. They always have a lot on their mind. Rituals can also be a good way to focus your intention and energy towards health and peace of mind. Light a white or green candle and let your gaze get lost in its flame. And of course, don’t forget that paganism is quite a simple concept; be one with nature.
Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again my dear pagan soul. Rejoice in life, and life will rejoice in you. May God and Goddess bless you in everything you do and spirit guides follow you wherever you go.
In love and light,