9 Ways to Naturally Lower Your Cortisol
Do you feel like you’re stressed a lot of the time? Chances are good your cortisol levels are high, and that’s not something you want.
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that helps the body respond to stress. When you’re in a real life-or-death situation, cortisol is great because it may save your life.
But, if you’re not fighting for your life but rather just laying in bed trying to go to sleep, you do not want cortisol around. High levels of cortisol over a prolonged period of time can lead to health issues such as:
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Decreased immune function
- Mental health problems
Since none of those are things anyone wants, here are some natural ways to lower your cortisol levels.
How to Lower Your Cortisol Naturally
1. Exercise regularly: Exercise has been shown to be an effective way to reduce cortisol levels, especially when performed regularly. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as Pilates, brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming, most days of the week.
2. Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep is one of the biggest contributors to elevated cortisol levels. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night and establish a consistent sleep schedule to improve the quality of your sleep.
3. Manage stress: Chronic stress is one of the biggest causes of high cortisol levels. It’s important to find healthy ways to manage stress, such as:
- Deep breathing
- Mindfulness meditation
4. Eat a healthy diet: A diet high in processed foods and sugar doesn’t only wreak havoc on how your body looks – it can also increase cortisol levels. Focus your attention on eating whole foods such as:
- Lean and clean proteins (grass-fed beef and free-range chicken/eggs)
- Healthy fats
This will help reduce cortisol levels and support your overall health.
5. Limit caffeine and alcohol: Consuming caffeine and alcohol can increase cortisol levels and disrupt sleep. Limiting or avoiding these substances can help keep cortisol levels in check. If coffee is a must for you, don’t drink it on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. Wait until you’ve got some food with a good balance and fat and protein before grabbing for that latte.
6. Try adaptogenic herbs: Adaptogenic herbs, such as ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and ginseng, have been shown to help reduce cortisol levels and improve stress resilience.
7. Practice relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and aromatherapy, can help lower cortisol levels by reducing stress and promoting relaxation.
8. Connect with others: Strong social connections have been shown to reduce cortisol levels and improve overall health. Make an effort to connect with family and friends regularly, either in-person or through technology.
9. Seek professional help: If you are struggling with chronic stress or elevated cortisol levels, consider seeking help from a mental health professional. They can provide you with support, tools, and strategies to help you manage stress and improve your overall health.
Reducing cortisol levels naturally is possible through a combination of healthy lifestyle habits, such as regular exercise, good sleep, healthy eating, and stress management. By incorporating these habits into your daily routine, you can lower cortisol levels, improve your health, and reduce the negative impact of stress on your life.