How That Cortisol Rush is Key to Our Survival

I was about 10 years old. We had moved outside of Washington, DC about a mile outside of the city limits.

This meant I had a mile walk to get to the city line, to grab the DC transit public bus and to get to school. Reverse that, to come home and It was about a mile down a very curvy road that went through the woods to get to our neighborhood.


Me and a couple of other boys had a ritual every day. We came up with a story that I’m sure it was a complete figment of our imaginations. Regardless, itt actually served a very interesting purpose. We called him “the Bum in the Woods“. There was this guy that we saw shadows of or we saw something fleeting, we called him “the Bum in the Woods“.  We ascribed to that nefarious person, all these terrible characteristics i.e. kidnapping children, eating children, whatever it was. We would get off the bus, start walking until the woods start. Then, “I think I see him!” Boom! Hair raises on the back of the neck and we start running as fast as we can to get to safety. What was happening in my body, in fact, is what happens to each and every one of us every single day. It is called the stress factor.


We need stress in our lives, it’s for sure that cortisol rush, that instantaneous burst of energy when there’s danger, when there’s an ever-present danger, you just fly into this super-aware state, you get all this energy, and you can perform After about 15, 20, 30 seconds, the cortisol completely diminishes, and then the adrenaline kicks in. So, there’s a reason for that. Cortisol is governed by the hypothalamus, which is connected to the nerve center. It’s the nerve center of your brain. It’s the brain of the brain, the hypothalamus. It sends the message, which reaches your toes in less than a second, and you’re on fire and you’re ready to go. Ready to rock and roll. That burns out in about 15 or 20 seconds. Then, adrenaline starts kicking in. Adrenaline is slower to kick in because the chemical is coming from the brain through the bloodstream, and then you get this sustained long burst of energy.


It’s very important to our survival. Fear is a very, very useful thing to help us to survive, and it gives us the chance and the ability to perform at a high level. In the next video, I’m going to explain how these chemicals work and what it’s going to do for you in order to help you, not just to survive, but how to control it, so you’re in control, and not the fear.

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