Adrenaline is that sudden hormone boost you get when you’re faced with a highly stressful, exciting or even fearful situation. Adrenaline is secreted by the adrenal gland, and it rapidly increases your blood circulation, breathing and carbohydrate metabolism, and it prepares your muscles for some serious exertion.
Adrenaline used to be vital for helping us survive in a world of predators – both as hunters and as prey. But in a landscape with no sabre-toothed tigers, it has a much adapted role of removing stress from your life. In fact, for those in the know, it’s the coolest stress-management plan ever!
Taking controlled risks
For some it’s jumping out of airplanes, for others it’s climbing up a vertical rock face, and for others still, it’s big wave surfing. Why would anyone in their right mind want to submit themselves to such crazy acts of extreme-ness? It all has to do with that famous fight or flight response we all know so well, some of us just really enjoy the rush we get from doing these kinds of things, so much so, our bodies can’t get enough of it. At which stage you become an “adrenaline junkie”.
What’s an adrenaline junkie? Well, an adrenaline junkie is a person who’s addicted to the thrill of the adrenaline rush: the exciting, pleasurable effect produced when the adrenal glands dump a large dose of adrenaline into the bloodstream.
So, what’s an “adrenaline rush”?
The adrenaline rush usually happens when the body senses danger, and it sets off the “fight or flight” moment, at which stage:
- Your heart rate increases, pleasure-giving endorphins are released by the pituitary gland and your breathing rate increases
- The result is the adrenaline high, a euphoric feeling that can last for hours
There’s a downside though…
The adrenaline rush wears off after a time and the “high” is as addictive as any drug
- The “high” you get from these dangerous activities is similar to the high you would get from cocaine or amphetamine (speed), only more so. The effect of these stimulants is to flood the brain with dopamine; an adrenaline high is similar.
- To get a high that’s beyond what you would get with drugs you have to put your life on the line. People can become addicted to the risk and may have to keep raising the limits to get the reward they seek
- Adrenaline junkies can also become more reckless in their everyday lives, putting themselves and others at risk for no reason, just so they can get their next adrenaline “fix”.
- Too much of a good thing is never a good thing. Having a constant elevated amount of adrenaline pumping around your body has been shown to increase blood pressure, cholesterol levels and reduce blood glucose control.
Adrenalin is the physiological factor that brings action and energy into reality and so stress has a positive role in life; but like all things, only in moderation. We are not built to have adrenaline coursing through our veins 24/7. So, take a risk-free day every now and then.