In this post, I'll show you how you can use hormones that are naturally produced in your body (cortisol and epinephrine, a.k.a adrenaline) to help you learn faster, improve your memory and increase your overall performance.
If you don't have the time to read the whole article, I'll give you the three steps protocol to follow to get all the benefits. I strongly recommend reading the entire article to understand better the science behind which will allow you to implement it in your life more easily and adjust to your needs if needed.
- Start the session with 90 minutes of deep focus learning or work (expect distractions in the first ~10 minutes, as well as at the end of the session)
- Increase adrenaline in your body using the Wim Hof breathing or any other breathing method
- Go into a non-sleep deep rest state (e.g. meditation, or something equally relaxing) for about 10-20 minutes.
Additionally, make sure at the end of the day, your sleep is high quality.
Many of you may know those hormones (cortisol and adrenaline/epinephrine) as something terrible, released when you are stressed, in a fight-or-flight mode. It's true, partially. I would like you to think about those hormones as hormones of alertness, activation, energy, though.
In fact, cortisol and epinephrine are vital to your health. They are helping you boost your immune system, be alert and ready to act, boost energy levels, and have many other positive effects, including better learning performance.
Cortisol is vital. You shouldn't call it a stress hormone. It makes you more alert and ready to take action, which is often perceived as anxiety if it raises too high levels.
Cortisol can be more thought of as a hormone of energy. It makes you want to act, increases your heartbeat, makes you alert and turns off some non-vital processes like digestion.
In general, cortisol can be a good tool if released at the right time, for the right amount of time, and in the correct dose - the same goes for adrenaline.
Research says a sharp increase in cortisol and adrenaline leads to better learning and performance. Epinephrine is actually your best friend when it comes down to learning and remembering.
It does so because it's usually released before extreme situations, e.g. you'll easily remember every detail of what happened before a car accident, and you'll remember it for a long time. I still remember how I crashed my uncle's car... It's all about how much, when and for how long you release cortisol and epinephrine.
This is why increasing your adrenaline levels after a learning session may help you learn faster, and remember more. This is something deeply ingrained in human evolution. The same way a child learns not to touch a hot stove, you learn whatever you want to learn, as long as you get the adrenaline boost right after you stopped learning.
They are harmful when being in a stress state is chronic and not controlled. You can not stay in this highly alert state for long. If you are stressed for more than a day you can consider it harmful.
Also, remember that you want those shots of hormones right AFTER the learning session, not while learning!
Many methods may help you reduce cortisol levels in your body, but it's a topic for another article. Among those, you may find things like... meditation, breathing, deep rest, and all of the well-known relaxation methods.
Avoid fasting, high-intensity training, cold showers as they all tend to increase cortisol and adrenaline levels in your body. Try to sleep well. Take care of yourself first. The basics are the most important!
However, if you do everything well, take care of all the basics but still struggle, you can look at supplements like Ashwagandha.
I'll cover the topic of dealing with chronic high levels of cortisol in your body in one of the next articles.
To summarize - the so-called stress hormone and adrenaline are not your enemies. They are vital for your well being and immune system. Use them as tools, take the control and get benefits in your learning and performance.