Waking up and feeling anxious is very common for lots of us. I’ve recently learned that it is a phenomenon caused by an increase in the main stress hormone – cortisol – surging through our bodies at an increased rate when we wake up. The stress that causes the cortisol to surge is due to perceived threats to our safety such as relationships, financial or health issues. In this day and age, I would include threats like COVID-19, government instability and climate change, to name just a few.

When we started Beth & Scott’s Adventure, we sold our home of 17 years. Prior to that, we saw a huge downturn in our school music business. Living in a trailer full-time, traveling new highways and seeing new states was exciting, but it also came with an increased level of fear. All of these things likely contributed to my cortisol surging more often than ever before.

Now, Beth and I have “settled” in a new place, Sullivan County. We’ve got a few friends here and old ones (and family) are available by phone. However, I think this move (and Bradley’s condition) have overwhelmed my mind-body connection. My brain is evidently throwing signals out to my limbic system and creating that cortisol surge that makes me feel worried every time I open my eyes.

In a way, this is good. It’s my body saying, “you need to change something, Scott.”

So, What Do I Do About It?

When I come to the computer to type these words, my mind begins to settle down. I am focused on a task and I’m engaging directly with my feelings. It reduces my stress by about half.

Our youngest daughter, Steph, is very similar to me. Both of us are what you might call “workaholics,” but in reality what we have is a system that makes it prudent for us to get up, get focused and get to work. We’re great at relaxing at the end of the day or even taking time off when a project is done, but our days seem to go better when we’re moving, not idle. I think my mom is this way, too.

Steph, my mother and I are also very active conversationalists. We like to dive deep into conversations, posing questions and learning, absorbing and constructing new pathways of understanding in our brains. We like to laugh and entertain. I’ve always seen this as a positive part of us (and it is), but I think that there may be a compulsion in there, too.

There are four things that I need to do going forward that I’m not currently doing enough: exercise, songwriting, playing/singing music and walking or hiking in nature. I believe that the anxiety in me just may get reduced to a normal level when I engage in those tasks more regularly. They make me feel happy, worthy and engaged. So, these are probably my best antidote for stress.

Oh, and I’ve got to dance more! That makes me so very happy.

I am over engaging in Facebook and watching the news, so these activities have to get adjusted.

I am also examining the idea of a new therapist. One day that may mean that I share more with him/her than all of you so I won’t feel as compelled to write down all of the strange stuff going on in my head. Or maybe I’ll do both. Who knows. Whatever happens, it will be an adventure!


  1. Tina

    Dearest Scott – when children grow up in violent households, their brains become ‘wired’ differently, as cortisol is produced in massive amounts, rather than blended with other hormones in a ‘normal’ brain. Cortisol – also known as the Hunger Hormone – was my greatest enemy growing up, as I battled obesity my ENTIRE life. Disordered eating of every stripe ruled my life. Food was my go-to stress reliever. After many different therapies, my PCP referred me to an MD who specialized in EMDR Therapy, as sort of ‘rewiring the brain’. IT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE. Read up on it. My love to you and Beth and dear Bradley. xo

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