How to Manage Your Cortisol Levels

How to Manage Your Cortisol Levels

Do you often find yourself stressed and tired? Do you notice a sudden weight gain even though you have not changed your diet or workout plan? Your cortisol levels could be abnormally disturbed and more specifically, they may be a little too high.

Cortisol is known by the name of primary “stress hormone” because it gets released when you are under some kind of pressure or stress. It can also be detected in the blood during the fight or flight response.

Most of the time, cortisol is considered a bad hormone as it contributes to acne, high blood pressure, and weight gain. However, the role of this hormone is much more than just being the stress hormone.

We need cortisol to live!

Why Is Your Stressful Lifestyle A Big Problem?

Production of cortisol is necessary for life and it keeps us awake, motivated, and responsive towards the environment. However, maintaining it at abnormally high levels can be quite dangerous and may lead to problems in the long run.

Using corticosteroids for a long period of time or suffering from chronic stress are considered as the biggest contributors to high cortisol levels.

An abnormally high level of cortisol for a long period of time is related to problems such as anxiety, weight gain, hormonal imbalances, sleep disorders, and much more.

The good news is that there are a lot of natural ways to get your cortisol levels in balance. For example, certain adaptogen herbs are a popular way of lowering the cortisol levels.

RELATED: Why Is Your Stressful Lifestyle A Big Problem?

Keep reading to know the most natural ways to reduce cortisol in your body.

  1. Switch to an Anti-inflammatory Diet

Blood sugar if not managed properly, for example in case of hypoglycemia, and high levels of inflammation may contribute to high cortisol levels.

Following a diet full of anti-inflammatory food, meaning low processed food items and high antioxidant, fiber, and nutrient levels, is the way of balancing cortisol.

These strategies may also be implied to support the adrenal function, allowing you to maintain a healthy weight. These can boost energy during the daytime and makes it easier to sleep at night.

Some of the most important contributors to inflammation and high levels of cortisol in terms of the diet include:

  • High-sugar, high-glycemic diet (including refined grains, sugary snacks, and packaged foods)
  • Consuming high levels of trans and refined fats
  • Drinking a lot of alcohol and caffeine
  • Not taking enough amount of antioxidants and micronutrients
  • Not eating sufficient fiber (which makes it difficult to maintain blood sugar)
  • Not eating sufficient amount of healthy proteins and fats (which may lead to hunger, high blood sugar, and weight gain)
  1. Manage Stress

Chronic stress is said to be associated with every health problem. Stress hits a lot of people at least to some degree and can affect the health by sending some chemical signals to the body such as blood vessels, heart, immune system, digestive system, lungs, brain, and other sensory organs.

How to Manage Your Cortisol Levels

Stress can increase your heart rate, breathing, muscle tension, pain, appetite, and problems related to sleep.

Lucky enough, there is always a way to manage stress without going through much trouble. There are stress relievers that you can use to lower the cortisol levels and decrease the effects of stress on your health.

Some of these stress relievers are explained below:

  • Meditation

Meditation can be used to train your brain and body to reduce stress and promote relaxation. You can achieve these benefits without compromising your alertness through meditation. Using meditation can also make the health of your heart and brain a lot better. Additionally, it may also improve your immune system.

  • Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been a part of the traditional Chinese Medicine for a long time. It can help control stress and treat problems like headaches, muscle pain, fertility, issues, poor blood circulation, and sleeping disorders.

  • Deep Breathing Exercises

Going for deep breathing exercises can help slow down the sympathetic system to induce relaxation in the body by the activation of the parasympathetic system.

  1. Exercise Regularly

As per a research published by the Harvard Medical School, exercising every day for about 30 to 60 minutes is among the best ways to manage stress.

Exercise can also help balance hormones, boost metabolic processes, and sleep better. The key is to not get involved in overtraining and overexerting yourself, which can, in turn, raise the amount of cortisol in your body.

Exercise can help manage your cortisol levels effectively. It may be increasing the production of cortisol and adrenaline initially but the levels come back to a normal level eventually.

This cycle can help your body handle stress better and gives the autonomic nervous system its own workout. This indicates that the next time you have a high-stress level; you can lower the levels easily by increasing your physical activity.

  1. Go for Adaptogen

Adaptogen herbs can lower down the high cortisol levels in different ways. They can balance hormones, decrease inflammation, and exert antibacterial and antiviral effects.

These miraculous herbs have antidepressant activities and can help lower fatigue and balance blood pressure and sugar levels.

A lot of adaptogens such as cocoa and reishi mushrooms can be used safely to promote better health with minimal side effects. There are more than 16 different adaptogen herbs that can lower cortisol levels such as:

  • Astragalus
  • Ashwagandha
  • Holy basil
  • Licorice root
  • Rhodiola
  • Medicinal mushrooms such as cordyceps and Reishi
  1. Go for Essential Oils

Just similar to adaptogen herbs, essential oils can fight stress and balance hormones. These oils such as myrrh, lavender, bergamot, and frankincense have active ingredients which can reduce cortisol.

At the same time, essential oils can also improve the immunity and relieve digestive disorders.

So, get some essential oils and try inhaling them or diffusing them in your home. You may also make bath soaks and body washes with your favorite ones or mix it with a carrier oil and place it directly on the skin.

If high cortisol levels are causing side effects like indigestion, acne, and stomach, essential oils like peppermint and lemon can help with it too.

  1. Get Sufficient Sleep

Getting sufficient sleep can help us control the production of cortisol but having it in a high amount can make it extremely hard to get some rest.

In people having normal circadian rhythms, cortisol levels rise during the morning and then keep dropping throughout the day until it gets really low at night.

People with high levels of cortisol often find themselves feeling the opposite- anxious and weird at night and fatigued throughout the day.

This is why such people are unable to sleep at the right time which consequently affects their whole lives.

This overactivity of your adrenal glands is indicative of adrenal fatigue, sometimes also known as Cushing’s disease. The disease is often associated with excessive stress and imbalances in hormones.

By following the six steps mentioned above, you can rest properly and live with more ease despite having problems with cortisol.

Just be sure to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night as this is important for resetting your circadian rhythms and maintain the balance between your body hormones.

Nancy holds a Pharmacy degree from University of Michigan and Masters of Science MS in Infectious Disease and Global Health (MS-IDGH) from Tufts University. She worked as a lecturer for three years before she turned towards medical writing. Her area of interest are infectious diseases; causes, mechanism, diagnosis, treatments and prevention strategies. Most of her writings ensure an easy understanding of uncommon diseases.

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