10 Ways to Lower Your Cortisol Levels Naturally
Adrenal glands secrete cortisol, a stress hormone that helps your body cope with stressful conditions. It’s released by the sympathetic nervous system, or the “fight or flight” reaction. While the production of cortisol in the short term can aid in your ability to cope with a difficult situation, if these hormone levels are too high for an extended period of time, it can actually do more harm than good. Weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, insomnia, mood swings, low energy, and diabetes are just a few of the health problems resulting from this over time. This begs the question- how to keep your cortisol levels in check without purchasing medications? Luckily for you, there are many ways to lower your cortisol levels naturally, meaning you can do this at home.
Here are some ways to help you identify the cause of your stress and how to manage and reduce your cortisol levels.
1 Don’t overdo it with the exercise
The stress hormone cortisol can rise or fall in response to exercise intensity. Cortisol levels spike immediately after a hard workout but drop within a few hours. This short-term rise aids in coordinating the body’s growth to face the challenge. However, this effect can be minimized with regular training, which effectively reduces the magnitude of the cortisol reaction. Regular physical activity has been shown to reduce cortisol levels via improving stress management and health. As a result, limit yourself to 150–200 minutes of low- to moderate-intensity activity per week to prevent overdoing it.
2 Get sufficient sleep and rest
By making sleep a top priority, you can reduce cortisol levels. Chronic sleep problems such as obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, and late-night work shifts have been linked to elevated cortisol levels. Stress and obstructive sleep apnea are two of the most common causes of insomnia. This can lead to elevated amounts of cortisol in the bloodstream, altering your hormone patterns, energy levels, and other aspects of your health.
To reduce your cortisol levels naturally, set a bedtime routine. The brain and body can be told to wind down for the night once you establish a regular nighttime sleep routine and wake-up schedule. Regular exercise can also help with sleep quality, but it should be done at least two to three hours before bedtime for best results. Avoid overdosing on caffeine, and remember that you shouldn’t consume any caffeine-containing foods and beverages 6 hours before bedtime. Avoid alcoholic beverages and cigarettes. Sleep quality and length might be affected by both substances. Go to sleep in a peaceful location. Wearing earplugs and turning off your phone can also help to keep distractions to a minimum.
3 Recognize when your thoughts are causing you tension
You can easily avoid getting sucked into stressful thinking by learning to recognize what kind of thoughts are causing you to stress out. Being more aware of your thoughts, accepting them without judgement or opposition, and allowing yourself to process them are all aspects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). You can become an objective spectator of your stressed thoughts rather than a victim of them if you pay attention to your mental and physical state.
When you’re able to identify anxious ideas, you’re better able to decide how to respond to them. For better stress management and lower cortisol levels, include mindfulness-based practices in your everyday routine. These kinds of simple efforts are effective ways to lower your cortisol levels.
4 Maintaining healthy social relationships
Friendships and familial ties have the potential to bring joy as well as stress. Cortisol levels act as a stage for these processes. Conflict in relationships temporarily raises cortisol levels, which then drop back to normal. This means that having healthy social relationships can assist reduce cortisol levels during stressful situations. Research shows that engaging in an affectionate conversation or physical touch with a romantic partner or platonic friend before a stressful activity reduces stress-induced markers like heart rate and blood pressure. Improve your mental and physical well-being by spending time with the people you care about and practicing empathy and conflict management skills.