Cortisol: the hormone most commonly associated with stress. And stress is bad, right? So, by default, is cortisol bad too? Not exactly. Here’s the deal: although cortisol is the hormone produced during the “fight or flight” response and is blamed for anxiety, high blood pressure, stroke, etc., it is still necessary for optimal brain and body function. The fight or flight mode is one that humans have developed in order to quickly and efficiently respond to threatening stimuli in our environment, and that spike in cortisol is a good thing. Beyond that, cortisol plays a part in helping our brains form memories, allowing us to feel alert and awake, managing inflammation in the body, supporting our metabolism, and more. The trouble arises when we are stuck in fight or flight mode and our cortisol levels never return to normal. When it comes to cortisol, balance is key. This is why finding ways to relieve and manage stress as well as mitigating stressful inputs is so important in our lives today.