5 Natural Ways To Reduce Your Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released by your adrenal glands and can have an impact on everything from your weight, mood and blood pressure to your sleeping patterns and energy levels. While a short spike in cortisol every once in a while may not impact your health long term, having consistently raised cortisol levels will. Fortunately, there are ways that you can control and reduce your cortisol levels to prevent all of the undesired effects of it. If you feel like you are frequently experiencing high cortisol levels, try these 5 ways to reduce them.
One of the best ways to reduce cortisol levels is to be able to identify when you are stressed so that you can then practice some relaxation exercises to reduce that stress. Some of the tell-tale signs of stress include a clenched jaw, raised shoulders, increased heart rate, and clenched fists to name a few. When you feel some of these symptoms coming on, take a step back and ask yourself “does this serve me?” This question alone can begin to relax you as you think about the situation at hand logically. Then try some breathing exercises. Take ten deep breaths in and deep breaths out. A study showed that stopping to breathe can reduce your cortisol levels by up to 50%. You could also try some yoga stretches or take a full class, and listening to binaural beats on your phone. Binaural beats can be found on Youtube, iTunes, Spotify or on a meditation app (I like Insight Timer).
Receiving affection from a partner has been shown to reduce cortisol levels by slowing down the heart rate and lowering blood pressure. Support from friends and loves ones has also shown to lower the stress hormone when you are faced with a stressful event. So whenever you are feeling stressed, snuggle up to a loved one, give a friend or family member a call or plan a lunch or dinner date.
Get the proper amount of sleep
Getting the right amount of sleep for your body can play a huge impact on cortisol levels. When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, the length of the sleep, the time you go to bed and wake up and the quality of your sleep are all important factors. It is also advisable to squeeze in a nap when you are sleep deprived as that helps to prevent a sleep deficit from occurring in your body. To get a proper night’s sleep, it is advisable to stick to a routine, get 7-9 hours of sleep, limit exposure to light and distractions before bed and have no caffeine after 3pm.
Exercise the right amount
While of course exercising poses many benefits to the body, it is recommended that one does not over exercise as that could lead to increased cortisol levels. Intense workouts show a spike in cortisol levels, however, that spike does end up going back down and actually lowering your cortisol levels at night. So at the end of the day whether you exercise moderately or intensely it is causing more good than harm over the long-term. If there are days that you can’t exercise, try being physical in other ways like going for a walk and taking the stairs when you can.
Nutrition is key
Certain foods can help to reduce your stress levels so it is important to have a well-balanced diet. Consuming too much sugar is a known trigger of cortisol. However, a small amount of sugar can actually have a positive effect. Some of the other things you should incorporate into your diet are dark chocolate, fruit, black and green tea and probiotics or fermented food like kimchi. Getting enough water every day also helps to control stress levels.