Cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone, and it plays a role in many bodily functions, including controlling blood sugar levels.
Often known as the “stress hormone” because it’s released during stressful situations, cortisol helps your body deal with traumatic or adverse events. It tells your body to pump blood faster and to release glucose for energy. However, prolonged high levels of cortisol can do more harm than good.
Thus, leading to an array of health issues such as weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, impaired immune system, heart disease, insomnia or difficulty sleeping, mood irregularities, and low energy levels.
Due to the stress we face in our daily activities, it is important to be mindful of our cortisol level. Therefore, this article will give you simple tips that will help to moderate your cortisol levels.
Get the right amount of sleep
Prioritizing your sleep may be an effective way to reduce cortisol levels as it helps to keep cortisol in a normal rhythm. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine 6 hours before bed, and staying off your cell phone right before bed are effective strategies.
One review of 28 studies in shift workers found that cortisol levels were higher in workers who slept during the day (night shift workers) rather than at night (day shift workers). Those on rotating shifts have been linked with poorer health outcomes, such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and worsened mental health.
Eat Nutritious food
A person trying to lower their cortisol levels should eat a healthful, balanced diet and pay attention to their sugar intake. Drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration also helps to keep cortisol levels lower.
Opt for a nutrient-dense diet full of whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and foods high in prebiotics and probiotics.
Exercise but not too much
Exercising regularly can help you better manage stress and promote good health, which may help lower cortisol levels. That said, avoid overdoing it and aim for around 150–200 minutes of low to moderate- intensity exercise each week.
Recognise stressful thinking
Practicing mindfulness can help you identify stressful thoughts and better manage them. Mindfulness-based practices such as meditation may help you reduce stress and lead to lower cortisol levels.
Maintain healthy relationships
Relationships with friends and family can lead to happiness and to stress. One study indicated that a person’s cortisol level can rise after an argument with their partner. Another reported that children with a happy and secure family life have lower levels of cortisol than those living in homes where there is regular conflict.
Spend time with those you love and learn to forgive and manage conflict for better emotional and physical health.
Deep breathing is a simple technique for stress reduction that can be used anywhere. Similar to mindfulness-based practice, controlled breathing helps to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, known as the “rest and digest” system, which helps to lower cortisol levels.
Meditation, yoga, tai chi, and qigong are great ways to practice deep breathing.
Be your best self, have fun and laugh
Resolving guilt improves life satisfaction and cortisol levels, likewise tending to your own happiness. This may involve changing habits, forgiving others, or learning to forgive yourself.
Also, if you’re feeling stressed, try listening to music or making yourself laugh.
Tend to your spirituality
For those with spiritual inclinations, developing faith and participating in prayer can help manage cortisol. Whether you’re spiritual or not, performing acts of kindness can also improve your cortisol levels.
Studies show that adults who expressed spiritual faith experienced lower cortisol levels in the face of life stressors such as illness. Prayer is also associated with reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.
Cortisol is a hormone that is released during times of stress. While important for reacting to physiological and psychological stressors, chronically high cortisol can lead to poor health.
Therefore, to reduce this, be sure to try the simple lifestyle tips above.