Cortisol is a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland in response to stress. It plays an essential role in regulating bodily processes, including blood sugar levels, metabolism, and immune function. Cortisol levels determine the extent of the body's response to stress, so it's crucial during times of prolonged stress.
However, when those cortisol levels remain high, it's possible that your body will experience detrimental effects.
Here are 9 ways to lower your cortisol levels:
1. Reduce your caffeine intake.
Caffeine triggers the release of cortisol and can cause cortisol levels to stay elevated for an extended period. This constant elevation can lead to negative consequences such as weight gain, impaired immune function, and decreased bone density. Therefore, reducing your caffeine intake can have a significant impact on lowering your cortisol levels. While total elimination of caffeine may not be necessary, it is essential to monitor and limit intake, especially during stressful periods. Switching to decaffeinated drinks or herbal teas can be an excellent alternative to high-caffeine beverages.
2. Get adequate sleep.
Lack of sleep can cause cortisol levels to spike, leading to increased feelings of anxiety and tension. Cortisol is important for regulating the body's response to stress, but when levels remain high for prolonged periods, it can have negative effects on your health. Chronic stress can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. To keep cortisol levels under control, it's recommended that adults get around 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Ensuring that you have a consistent sleep schedule and creating a relaxing bedtime routine can help improve the quality of your sleep.
3. Spend more time outside.
Spending time in nature has been shown to have a calming effect on the mind and body, reducing stress and anxiety levels. This has been attributed to the increased exposure to natural light and fresh air. Additionally, outdoor activities such as hiking or gardening can be a form of physical exercise, which has been shown to be an effective way to reduce cortisol levels. Taking breaks throughout the day to step outside and soak up some sun can also help lower cortisol levels in the body.
4. Invest in your hobbies.
By investing more time in your hobbies, you can reduce your stress level and achieve a better quality of life. Whether it’s painting, hiking, knitting or any other activity that you enjoy, engaging in it regularly can help you relax and unwind. The satisfaction that comes with doing something that you love can lead to a positive outlook on life which in turn helps to lower cortisol levels. Hobbies can be an escape from daily stressors that can be detrimental to mental and physical health.
Journaling has been shown to be a beneficial tool for managing stress and reducing cortisol levels. By regularly journaling about stressful events or feelings, individuals can process their emotions and thoughts, which may reduce the intensity of their stress response. This, in turn, can help lower cortisol levels and improve overall health. Additionally, journaling can serve as a form of self-reflection and provide individuals with insight into their behaviors and thought patterns, which can help them identify and address sources of stress in their lives.
6. Cut out the excess sugar.
By reducing the amount of sugar you consume, you can avoid the spikes and drops in blood sugar levels that can contribute to increased cortisol production. Instead, focus on consuming whole, nutrient-dense foods that can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce stress on the body. For example, high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and keep cortisol levels in check.
7. Take supplements
Taking supplements to lower cortisol levels can potentially be an effective way to manage stress and anxiety. Supplements such as Omega-3, ashwagandha, and magnesium can help to lower cortisol levels, thus reducing the negative effects of stress. Omega-3 has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve the body's response to stress, while ashwagandha is an adaptogen that helps the body adapt to stressors. Magnesium also has a calming effect on the body and helps to regulate the nervous system.
8. Start a somatic exercise program.
Somatic exercise is a form of movement that emphasizes body awareness and sensory experience, helping to moderate the body's response to stressors. Engaging in this kind of activity can help to reduce physical tension, increase relaxation, and lower cortisol levels. Somatic movement practices can be especially useful for individuals who struggle with chronic stress, anxiety, and trauma-related disorders. By incorporating somatic exercise into one's wellness routine, it is possible to improve overall health and well-being while managing cortisol levels.