Adrenaline Rush: Symptoms, Causes, and Meaning
Have you ever walked down a dark alley and felt how your whole body pulsates with fear and vigor without being able to explain why or what is happening at that moment?
Did you feel your heart beating faster, your eyesight becoming sharper and your mind clearer? In those situations, you most likely felt like you could take on anything thrown at you.
Or how about a situation where you are so nervous that you can feel your palms sweat but everything seems so clear and you can think a lot more efficiently without being distracted as easily?
When we go from evolutionary standpoint adrenaline has always been the driving force that drastically enhanced the survival chances of animals whenever they were in danger.
It is a part of the autonomic nervous system which means it is regulated outside of our will. It consists of three parts:
- The parasympathetic division of the nervous system – It controls our “ digest and rest” bodily response that occurs when we rest.
- The enteric division of the nervous system – It controls most of our reflexes and bodily functions.
- The sympathetic nervous system – It regulates the body’s unconscious activity and is the main driving force of the body’s fight or flight response while working at all times to maintain homeostasis.
Adrenaline surges can occur in plenty of scenarios. Some people can experience a massive boost in strength in casual situations such as when lifting at the gym.
You most likely have experienced this sensation many times in a wide range of situations of different intensities from that difficult test you wish to pass to potentially life-threatening scenarios.
Adrenaline ( known also as epinephrine) is produced within the adrenal glands. This hormone is important as it acts as “fuel” to boost the body’s performance and incite a fight or flight response.
So why is it so important? Adrenaline surges are an integral part of humans and have many useful benefits if recognized and limited in use while minimizing negative side effects.
1. HOW AND WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN FOR ADRENALINE TO KICK IN?
Immediately the first question that might occur to you is what is the most common cause for adrenaline surges and why are they common? The answer is stress.
Stress is always present in our daily lives and comes in many forms that range from our relationships with other people, our education, careers and many more everyday situations that put a strain on us.
Think about people who like to go skiing. Asking one of them how do they feel after looking down a long ski track that looks tricky and even dangerous will get you an answer that they feel already “pumped”.
These hormones can also kick in when we are excited about something so it is not caused exclusively by negative outside factors.
Two adrenal glands that are placed at the top of each of our two kidneys act as the “factory” of many hormones, such as cortisol, adrenaline, aldosterone, and noradrenaline.
The process begins within the brain. When we perceive a situation as stressful or dangerous that information is quickly sent to the amygdala.
When adrenaline is in the bloodstream it does the following:
- Your breath becomes faster due to adrenaline binding to the receptors on the muscle cells.
- Your heart beats faster due to the stimulation of the heart’s cells.
- The flow of adrenaline has the effect of contracting blood vessels and direct blood to muscle groups that contribute to general strength
- Perspiration is stimulated through the muscle cells below your skin
- Increases pain tolerance significantly
- Thought processes are speeded to come up with ideas quickly to escape out of the situation.
- Blood flow that goes to the muscles is taken from your guts and other parts of the body to focus on maximizing your performances for a short period.
The increase in oxygen and glucose that go to the brain and muscles results in you feeling a lot more capable and stronger.
Several athletes enjoy the rush of adrenaline and usually pursue high-intensity sports and exercise to intentionally trigger them.
Adrenaline is sometimes associated with negative effects such as cases where your breathing might be obscured while you are sleeping to which the brain reacts by sending the body into a hyper-alert mode.
2. ADRENALINE IN OUR DAILY LIVES.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “Adrenaline junkie”? How often are we exposed to adrenaline? Do we have our say as to how our bodies will react to the outside world?
Different studies cover the effect of adrenaline on our mental and physical state. It is an interesting factor to note that an adrenaline rush might very well be a natural way to cope with stress.
Professions that carry with themselves a level of danger carry with themselves a greater range of possibilities for adrenaline to occur.
When confronting situations that require instantaneous actions we can find ourselves unable to act within the moment. People working in more stressful environments have more control over this issue.
Law enforcement and military personnel are a lot more engaged with adrenaline rushes and some of the more aggressive aspects of the military industry are endorsed with the thrill of combat in mind.
Our daily lives are full of different sources of distress and most of the time our reactions are less controlled by us and often more a reaction to the outside stimulus.
This issue raises the question as to why we are usually prone to reacting abruptly and being unable to fully remain in control of ourselves during moments of distress.
We get agitated by political debates, different opinions, people we do not like and many more factors that contribute in a smaller or larger degree to the chances our body reacts with releasing a surge of adrenaline.
It is interesting to observe that people working in dangerous careers are more able to deal with stress and act accordingly and posses a different brain structure that can cope with issues more successfully.
Neuropeptide Y is an amino acid that plays a big role in regulating learning, blood pressure and it acts as a natural tranquilizer that negates the effects of stress induced by adrenaline going off the charts..
This amino acid plays a big role in higher cognitive functions and helps keep the prefrontal cortex function optimally during a stressful situation.
It is dispersed across the body in larger dosages whenever we are confronted with a situation we come across a stressful situation and that particular aspect is highlighted across the training for said careers.
Adrenaline allows us to experience a wide range of emotions during its bursts as well as allowing us to relax and uniquely calm ourselves. Balancing these ranges of emotions bring many benefits.
A single burst of adrenaline is enough to get us moving while boosting our immune system and our overall state.
Our organism is pushed to escape or fight off a negative situation but as you will soon find out that doesn’t have to be the case.
3. WHAT ARE THE NEGATIVE SYMPTOMS OF AN ADRENALINE RUSH?
What is often missed out when talking about adrenaline rushes are the side effects that can have a drastic complication in the long run on your entire body.
As adrenaline has an addictive characteristic it can entice people who love the feeling of its thrill to commit to larger quantities of activities that are progressive more adrenaline-inducing.
The reason for this is can illustratively be displayed by taking a look at runners.
When they run a certain distance they can get the thrill of exercise and all the effects associated with an adrenaline rush.
What changes accompany those runs is that our body adapts to increased intensity exercises and that is why we need to push ourselves even more to feel that thrill which can lead to addiction
The first encounters with adrenaline are actually experienced in schools. As teachers hand out the test or as pupils forget to do their homework they will experience a feeling of urgency that leads to adrenaline.
A desire to achieve good grades and not fail can instill a feeling of fear in a child and the limited timeframe reminds them of how much time they have left before an assignment ends.
Aside from school, a close example exists in dating.
Acts such as quick or unsafe sex can make the participants feel a surge of adrenaline which makes a valid point of marking the potential dangers of addiction further.
Criminal or frowned upon activities can cause culprits to feel the thrill of adrenaline coursing through them and it is not uncommon for some cases to commit such activities out of a desire for the thrill.
Obese people can have adrenaline/noradrenaline rushes at night which can lead to higher blood pressure. Cortisol plays a key role in weight management as well.
What is worth noting is that a high amount of adrenaline can cause dysfunction within the body and can be a sign of phaeochromocytoma.
The following can be attributed to an adrenaline rush:
1) Anxiety – They represent the body’s reaction to any sort of stress it exposes itself to.
What sets it apart is the chilling effects that we can get when we overreact to an intensive sensation such as an adrenaline rush. Said effects subside after a few minutes yet feel excruciating while they last.
2) The body’s temperature rises up – This is because blood rushes to the center of the body to enable faster blood pumping.
Breathing can be painful and hyperventilation can occur.
3) Extremely fast heart pumping – Because your heart is pumping so quickly to supplement increased blood flow it can sometimes stop for a moment which might make you feel it “missed a beat”.
High levels of adrenaline and acute stress are associated with heart palpitations and that is why it is necessary to understand how to reduce levels of stress and adrenaline to avoid overworking the body.
4. HOW CAN YOU STOP AND CONTROL AN ADRENALINE RUSH?
With a big dosage of adrenaline, we often lose situational awareness and naturally react in a less refined manner to eliminate or get away from our source of stress.
It may seem like something we simply cannot fight but there are a lot of ways we can push adrenaline out of its role as a controlling reaction to a more supplementary role.
1) Breathing exercises – Take a deep breath and step away for a second.
As your body is filled with greater dosages of oxygen your pulse and heart-rate return to normal and your body becomes less tense.
You can sit upright and put your hands on your belly while slowly breathing in and out.
As you do this the vagus nerve regulates the activity of your parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system. It turns up the former and turns down the latter.
2) Progressive muscle relaxation – Lie down or sit and start slowly stretching and relaxing your muscles.
This method is a great way to really get rid of stress and calm your entire body.
3) Positive thoughts – They really do go a long way!
Sometimes it takes very little to escape a negative situation and imagine yourself in a more positive setting. A positive outlook will deter the loss of self-control and help you rethink your situation.
A positive outlook drastically decreases the chances of cardiovascular disease and gives you an advantage in dealing with hardship and thus making your life easier and more bearable.
To maximize the efficiency of positive thinking it is good to stick to evaluate if you can relate to one of the following indicators that could be prohibiting you in a subtle yet detrimental manner:
- Personalizing – Blaming yourself consistently for negative occurrences that have or don’t have any real connection to you.
- Polarizing – Seeing a situation as black and white excludes an optimistic outlook.
- Catastrophizing – Seeing the worst-case scenario in every situation with no real escape.
- Filtering – Extensively shifting focus from positive to negative aspects of a situation.
This leads to a steady decline in your ability to calm yourself and magnifies the pent up hormonal surge that accompanies an adrenaline rush.
In a situation that causes you distress, you might happen to heighten the negative effects of adrenaline and exaggerate a situation that can leave you in a negative state in which you can’t think clearly.
4) Devalue the seriousness of the situation – This might be one of the most effective ways to deal with an issue by looking at it through a different light.
When we look at the world through the glasses of seriousness we will sooner or later experience a drastic issue that can spread throughout the entirety of our life.
Try to remember one of the times you got into a heated discussion with a friend or family member about a topic you both looked at through a different angle and just couldn’t find any common ground.
It feels frustrating, doesn’t it? Now amp that up a few times further and imagine a setting where you are facing the possibility of being fired for a misunderstanding you have difficulty even try to clear up.
Thinking clearly is rapidly becoming an increasing rarity in today’s world but it doesn’t mean it is excluded in your case. Strive to alleviate stress through constructive thought and mental strengthening.
5) Exercise – What is mostly associated with adrenaline rushes is also one of it’s greatest remedies when they occur in excess.
Every sort of stress, physical exertion or emotions like fear and anger stimulate your brain cells through the sympathetic nervous system to enter the famous “fight or flight” reaction.
As your physical and mental capabilities are sharpened over time you become more accustomed to the effects of adrenaline and can function with a wider degree of flexibility and comfort when affected by it.
Athletes attribute a big motivator for exercise the effect known as the “runner’s high” which releases endorphins that play a big part in your overall well being and happiness while and after exercising.
Utilizing different parts of your body and slowly working on yourself is the key to providing yourself a safe and enjoyable thrill.
5. USING THE RUSH OF ADRENALINE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
This rollercoaster of cortisol and adrenaline that pumps up your body and prepares it for action has a lot of practical uses that aspire many ideas on how you can benefit from this burst of energy.
Before getting into activities that can produce adrenaline you should be careful not to overextend your body’s limits and not dive into anything if you aren’t ready.
There is a lot of good news regarding the positive side of adrenaline as it is still being researched.
As you already know that stress can cause signs of aging to show up at an accelerated pace you may have missed that adrenaline may play a role in slowing the process down.
During the duration of an adrenaline rush you won’t feel pain and your strength will be at it’s the absolute maximum for a few moments which is perfect for bodybuilding and extreme sports.
Your brain will be oxygenated and completely engaged to deal with anything thrown in its way. Your focus will be increased exponentially and you will be executing many cognitive tasks with ease.
While the body releases hormones to regulate your stress level and physical performances you can engage in more taxing activities that you otherwise would hesitate or would not fancy doing.
These activities can range from social endeavors such as meeting new people or impressing your friends with a stunt to extreme sports feats that would seem otherwise challenging in normal conditions.
Adrenaline pumping activities are a huge tourist-oriented industry that offers daring individuals a huge selection of activities to get their hearts pumping. Here are a couple of ideas you can try out:
- Bungee jumping
- Downhill mountain biking
- Rock Climbing
- Ultramarathon Racing
- Scuba Diving
Even everyday situations can be used as a source of adrenaline. You can experience an adrenaline rush simply by watching a scary movie or playing a video game that gives you the thrills!
Keep a close watch on the side effects of adrenaline as it can harm you in large dosages.
You will feel more aware and capable of doing these and many more activities while the rush of adrenaline gives you stamina and courage to challenge yourself in different ways.
While you are engaged in a thrilling activity that really pushes you over the edge you will experience the heightened senses that will make the entire experience all the more enjoyable for you.
6. THE BOTTOM LINE OF ADRENALINE
This marvel of nature’s resilience has helped our ancestors survive in the harshest of environments and deal with predators twice their size on an almost daily basis.
It still holds strong today with its effects firmly integrated into our world within many areas we would least notice.
It allows us to exceed our limits and perform feats almost unimaginable such as lifting a car if the situation we perceive is dire!
While we are experiencing the rush of adrenaline we really can perform feats as astounding as the example mentioned above. The best part of it all is that every one of us can do it.
There is a difference between putting stress on our muscles through exercise and facing certain danger in case of inaction. The latter will give us more power but exhaust us and cause potential health risks.
While it is great knowing that we can always rely on a safety measure to give us that extra bit of juice to push on forward when we think we have reached our limit, it is important to carefully limit it.
For those 20 minutes we can truly achieve greater feats than usually and with moderation in mind reap the best effects adrenaline has to offer.
Hopefully, by now you got to know all you wanted about adrenaline rush, as well as how, why and when it happens.
In order to master your business you need to know how to master your mind and in order to do that, you need to understand your physiology, especially your neuro-chemistry.
Knowing what and how happens in your body during times of stress is a prerequisite to managing the situation.
Needless to say it’s not just about entrepreneurship. Handling your adrenaline is essential to your health and wellbeing as well.
As you, without a doubt, know already, adrenaline is not a thing to be trifled with so, adrenaline junkies, beware!
It’s a powerful tool you can use to excel in different spheres of life, and yet, caution is advised.