These days, it seems like more people are aware of the health consequences that are brought about by being under constant stress. Too much stress produces a high amount of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol, literally referred to as “the stress hormone” can cause many dysfunctions when the levels raise too much in the body, including:
- Gut health issues
- Poor heart health
- Weight gain
Increased cortisol can ultimately create even more feelings of anxiety. Talk about a vicious cycle!
Luckily, there are numerous techniques that can be incorporated into your life to help lower cortisol levels and reduce stress for over-all, greater well being.
Eat lots of fruit
When our blood sugar is low, our cortisol typically becomes high. Regulating our blood sugar can help alleviate a feeling of perceived stress. Of course, refined and processed sugars cause us to crash and feel inflamed. Fruit, on the other hand, especially ones high in fiber like an apple are slow burning and help sustain our blood sugar for long periods of time. If you are often busy and on the go, consider carrying a piece of fruit with you!
It can sometimes seem impossible to stop thinking about the laundry list of things you have to do. Setting aside even just five or ten minutes out of your day to meditate can help reduce stress, along with providing loads of other benefits. There are plenty of helpful techniques for anyone that is new to meditation so that they can find success in adding it to their daily routine.
Get a good night’s sleep
We talk about the importance of sleep quite a bit. That’s because it really is that important for your mood, your waistline, and your overall health and well being. It’s not just the quantity of sleep but the QUALITY of sleep that you get that is important, especially when we’re talking to how it pertains to your cortisol levels. Sleep is affected by a hormone called melatonin, or the “sleep” hormone. Too much light before bed or in the room while your sleeping lowers melatonin production which is inversely related to cortisol levels, causing it to raise. This in turn causes you to get a poor night’s sleep, keeping your cortisol levels high through the night.
Lowering Caffeine Intake
Besides the obvious hindrance on a good night’s rest, caffeine can contribute to feelings of anxiety and stress. It doesn’t just create a spike in cortisol, but it keeps it elevated. Caffeine also raises epinephrine, which most of us know as adrenaline. If you can’t live without caffeine, consider adding an adaptogen (adaptogenic herb), which is an herb that helps the body adapt to stress by exerting a normalizing effect on bodily processes. A little known but very effective adaptogen is ashwagandha.
Countless studies have shown the benefits of exercise on the body AND mind. Reducing stress and depression while improving self esteem. Exercise is a wonderful outlet and stress reliever. It can assist in healthy sleep and healthy hormone functions, keeping cortisol and other stress related hormones at their appropriate levels.
Taking little steps and creating small, new habits will over time lead to large changes. You can’t control the other drivers on the road or how your coworkers act. You CAN, however, control how you react to those things and how you respond to stress. Chose to let go of it. Enhance your quality of life and feeling of wellbeing by reducing the stress and anxiety in your life.