Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The Positive Effects of Adrenaline

The release of adrenaline into your body can be a very positive thing. When I was younger, I remember I was walking through a car park with my younger sister when a car with a driver who wasn't looking started reversing out of a space just footsteps from her. I remember I jolted forward and pushed her out of the way, the car's bumpers just clipping her thighs. Afterwards I felt breathless, shaky and like I could run a hundred miles - my first notable experience of adrenaline. Adrenaline can actually be very positive and healthy for the body. The release of adrenaline, a stress hormone, is our body's natural response to a stressful event or extreme emotions. When adrenaline is released into our bodies, blood flows to the muscles and powers the conversion of glycogen into glucose (used to fuel our bodies) and therefore we experience a rush of energy. This all happens in a quick 5-10 seconds! On a much more advanced level, adrenaline is used for some pretty important stuff - in cardiac arrest it is used to help the blood flow throughout the body and it narrows blood vessels to help stop the body bleeding. Although often we associate an adrenaline rush with negative events (ever been driving and a car swerves out in front of you causing you to slam on your breaks?), we similarly get adrenaline rushes from positive events too. Things like winning money on a scratch card or getting that job you've been wanting for ages can give us the same energising rush.

There are many ways that we can replicate the feeling of an adrenaline rush and release adrenaline into our bodies without putting ourselves in danger. Watching a scary movie is a good way of triggering the fight or flight response in our bodies - ones that are particularly jumpy or have surprising moments are usually the best for adrenaline. Another way to trigger an adrenaline rush is to do something that is considered risky - and by risky, I don't mean putting yourself in harm or danger. Something as simple as asking someone on a date, singing karaoke in front of a crowd or auditioning for a role in a play can give us the same energising rush. We can also release adrenaline into our bodies by gambling. When playing online roulette for example, the rush we feel from placing bets and winning similarly triggers our 'fight or flight' response which leaves us feeling energised. Doing exercise can also give us a good adrenaline rush; doing an intense work out often leaves us feeling energised, strong and with an increased awareness.

So what are the positive effects?

When adrenaline is released into our bodies, besides all the technical stuff like glycogen being converted quickly into glucose, the hormones dopamine, catecholamine and norepinephrine are secreted. These are known as our "feel good" hormones - simply because they actually make us feel positive. The rush of adrenaline leaves us with a reduced sense of pain, meaning we are able to deal with a lot more pain without noticing it properly as we would without the rush of adrenaline. It also increases our perceived strength, meaning we feel a lot stronger and more able than we actually are. This is often referred to as the unlocking of our 'superhuman strength'. The diminished pain and increase in perceived strength is also coupled with an increase in our awareness and energy - making us pretty sharp human beings!

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