6 Things You Can Do To Lower Cortisol Levels

6 Things You Can Do To Lower Cortisol Levels

Cortisol, not cholesterol, is a stress hormone that the body produces naturally. It plays a role in your overall health and well-being, but chronically high cortisol levels can worsen health issues, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mental health disorders. By taking steps to manage your cortisol levels, you will not only improve your overall health, but also keep your stress in check. 

What Is Cortisol?

The body produces cortisol in response to stress. Although it can have a negative connotation, especially when you see more than 80,000 TikTok posts under #cortisol, cortisol is integral for several bodily functions. In a healthy body, for example, one of cortisol’s tasks is to help regulate inflammation. When the body comes in contact with a virus or bacteria, cortisol helps to fight those germs to keep you from getting sick. 

The body produces cortisol to help it respond more efficiently to potential dangers or stressful situations. You need it to kick into the body’s fight-or-flight response, just in case you have to outrun a bear, for example. If your body is in a constant fight-or-flight state, though, the immune system is less sensitive and less receptive to cortisol’s anti-inflammatory abilities. That can lead to chronic inflammation, which is linked to numerous diseases, including obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. If you want to avoid these things and keep cortisol levels down, continue reading. 

Get Moving

Need to bring those stress levels down? Incorporating more physical activity, such as walking, jogging, yoga, yoga, CrossFit, or Pilates, into your day can help you lower cortisol levels. Find whatever you love to do and do it! Some people like to cycle, while others prefer the fun environment of a Zumba class. One study monitored a group of healthy young-adult men and found that higher intensity exercise mitigated cortisol reactivity, reducing stress when exposed to a physical stressor.

Get Some Sleep

After you get moving, you need to go to bed…and that’s an order! Kidding aside, sleep deprivation can elevate cortisol levels, making it difficult to perform a stressful task. Some data suggests that sleep loss is associated with elevated cortisol levels even on the second day after a poor night’s sleep. Ideally, adults should get between seven to nine hours of sleep per night for optimal recovery. 

Try Meditation

If you want to reduce cortisol levels, meditation may be an excellent technique. According to some studies, a consistent meditation habit can increase your tolerance to anxiety, uncertainty, and unexpected things. Mindfulness meditation has proven to be an effective tool for lowering cortisol levels, based on existing research. People who are highly susceptible to stress, such as people with mental disorders or somatic illnesses, benefit most from mindfulness meditation.

Tap Into Your Community

What does it mean to tap into your community? Human connection is more important than you realize, especially if you find yourself in a place where you value others and they value you. Time and again, research shows that connecting with people can help reduce cortisol. One study monitored people who had to engage in public speaking. The participants who had loved ones nearby had lower levels of cortisol prior to delivering the speech compared to those who did not have support. 

Write It Down

Most people hold their emotions inside and never let them out, which is a very unhealthy habit. Releasing those emotions can be quite cathartic, lifting a heavy, emotional weight off your shoulders. One study found that people who wrote about their past failures before experiencing a new stressor had lower cortisol levels than those who did not write their past failures down. 

Focus On Healthier Foods

High stress levels can negatively impact your food choices. If you are stressed, you probably reach for chips or something salty and ultra-processed out of pure instinct. Choosing single-ingredient, whole foods can benefit both your metabolism and your digestive system. One study looked at cortisol levels and the glycemic index of the way fast foods elevate blood sugar. The researchers noted a link between a high glycemic index diet and higher cortisol levels. Other research found that eating high-calorie foods immediately increased cortisol.

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