Sunday, January 28, 2007

Cortisol Hangover

I have an inane belief in biochemistry that verges on the superstitious. I'm sooo not a scientist and thus most of the information that I glean about how body chemistry affects us is accrued from such reliable sources as Allure Magazine, Oprah, and you guys. With those kinds of references, my scientific knowledge of chemistry is on par with that of my scientific knowledge of astrology. (But better than that of Scientology, I suppose...)

With that caveat out of the way, I subscribe to these ideas religiously. So when I read (full disclosure: in O Magazine) that women can be affected for up to two days by a cortisol hangover, I almost shouted "A HA!!" outloud on the train.

Cortisol, as all of us avid fashion magazine readers know, is the hormone the body secretes when under stress. It's been linked to all kinds of health issues: lowering immunities, insomnia, and the accumulation of the dangerous and particularly fetching abdominal fat. Some scientists (at least those that get interviewed by Vogue) identify cotisol as the chemical reaction that triggers the "fight or flight" reaction to fear-inducing situations. So, stress=cortisol=bad health, obviously. But a cortisol hangover? Well, why not? After my wretched, wretched meeting on Wednesday, the one in which I figured as the human punching bag, I felt sick for about 36 hours. Gradually, I went from feeling scared, shaky, and ulcer-ridden to my more typical cynical self who knows that everyone else is wrong and I'm generally right, but the recovery period was rather significant. is it the case that work situations that manufacture the fight or flight response have an attendant hangover to go with them? [Hell, if that's the case, I'll just start buying wine by the case and fight one hangover with another...]

My point, here, I suppose, is to remind myself that work can have physical effects; it's not that I'm a horrible person deserving of psychotic rage, but rather that situations where I'm treated like a clubber of baby seals can make me feel gross. In general, I don't have a whole lot of control over my physical responses to these situations, except in this one way: this weekend, Mr. Fluff and I went to the big city. If I hadn't had non-refundable tickets, I would have stayed home. But by day two, the hangover was over. Note to self: like any hangover, getting out of the house is crucial to feeling better. With the cortisol one, I think it's the case that I need new sights and sounds and experiences to activate those other neural receptors (or, in non-pseudo-scientific speak: new experiences help to push the old ones out of the front of my mind).

Non sequitur question for everyone: how many blocks of big city walking is normal in a vacation day? 60? 70? 120? How many would you go before you started referring to your mate as the "commander of the Bataan Death March"?


Blogger FrenchieF said...

Mr. Fluff needs to be reminded that a girl NEEDS a cab sometimes... Hope you had fun!

Monday, January 29, 2007 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger kfluff said...

I just heard that 20 north/south city blocks equal 1 mile. If that's true, I walked over five miles a day on our "vacation."

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 10:50:00 PM  

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