Cortisol is the stress hormone secreted by your adrenal glands - these are small glands located on top of each kidney.
Cortisol is released in response to some type of physical or emotional danger that your body perceives. Often called the “stress hormone,” it is your natural “flight or fight” response.
Maintaining normal levels of cortisol will help keep your blood sugar levels even and is an important part of feeling good, staying healthy, and managing weight. Too much cortisol prompts the body to store fuel in the form of fat, usually around the waist.
Dr. Mark Hyman, family physician and New York Times best-selling author says, “Ninety-five percent of disease is either caused by or worsened by stress.” We have not been successful at managing our stress (or our reaction to imagined stress) and consequently, there is a rampant epidemic of elevated cortisol throughout the civilized world.
If your cortisol level is in its ideal position, your energy is consistent, your blood sugar is stable, your mood upbeat, and your sleep is restorative.
If your cortisol levels are high, lowering them will depend on the underlying cause. If it is related to issues with your glands or medication, then work with your health professional.
If it is due to chronic stress, there are various lifestyle changes you can make to get your cortisol level under control by reducing your stress load.
Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet - especially dark, green leafy vegetables. They are rich in folate, which helps your body manufacture neurotransmitters (like serotonin and dopamine) that help regulate mood.
An easy way to add extra greens to your diet is by adding them to a breakfast smoothie.
Lessen sugar and processed foods.
Limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption.
Walk or practice a daily movement routine (low intensity) which will increase endorphins (the feel-good hormone).
Spend quiet time daily in meditation.
Research investigating the effects of yoga and meditation found that the practices positively impacted physiological and immunological markers of stress and inflammation, and in addition improved subjective wellbeing.
Connect with Nature
Spending just 20 minutes connecting with nature can help lower stress hormone levels, according to a study in the April 4, 2019, Frontiers in Psychology.
Have an attitude of gratitude. A gratitude journal is a phenomenal way to raise your energy vibration and lower your stress level. Gratitude is related to 23 percent lower levels of cortisol.
“The practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life. It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep”
Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis.
If you are not spending regular time moving or you recognize you are relying on a lot of caffeine, pick one of the above suggestions and apply it today, once your new action becomes a practice, try another one.
Tracking your progress on a calendar or in a journal is a great way to visually follow your success.
Want help becoming the healthiest version of you?
Cortisol. (2017, January) http://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/cortisol/
Brand S, Holsboer-Trachsler E, Naranjo JR, Schmidt S. Influence of mindfulness practice on cortisol and sleep in long-term and short-term meditators. Neuropsychobiology. 2012;65(3):109-118. doi:10.1159/000330362