How to lower cortisol is a well-researched topic, but did you know that generosity can actually help lower that stress-induced hormone?
Yep- true story.
Here’s the thing- stress levels of just a college student today is comparable to the stress levels of a WWII soldier on the front lines. At times, we all are stressed, gain some additional pounds, struggle with facial or body acne, or even deal with high blood pressure. It is common for these things to occur during our lifetime. However, many of us now live in a chronic stressful state and aren’t even aware of it.
What Exactly is Cortisol?
Cortisol is a hormone secreted by your body when you are under stress or pressure. It is known as the “flight or fight” hormone, and the adrenal glands regulate it, which are right above your kidneys. Interestingly, our bodies don’t know the difference between emotional and physical stress. It will release cortisol in the event of getting injured in a car accident or dealing with a stressful day at work. It is important to know that stress can do incredible amounts of harm to your body.
THE PURPOSE OF CORTISOL IS TO REGULATE YOUR BODY THROUGH THE FOLLOWING WAYS:
- Helps utilize carbs and fats appropriately
- Plays a part in your sleep cycle
- Helps with inflammation
- Helps control your blood pressure
Cortisol is a big deal in your body, and having normal cortisol levels will enable you to live a healthy life.
How to Lower Cortisol with Generosity
Being a generous person can affect your cortisol levels by reducing stress, decreasing depression, and balancing your blood pressure(1). We’re not kidding, if you’re really wondering how to lower cortisol- our first response is to be generous. Be kind. Having a heart of generosity can lead to happiness, a good marriage, a better career, and a longer life. Find a way to be a giver, and see how it changes your life. How cool is that?
Now for more good news, generosity isn’t the only way to lower your cortisol levels. So if you aren’t in the mood to be generous (hey, we’ve all been there) then changing your lifestyle is another way to reduce your cortisol- let’s dive into them.
1. Natural Cortisol Supplements
Now, how to lower cortisol naturally and without being generous is pretty easy too. Herbs and vitamins are beneficial in naturally balancing cortisol levels. The type of herb to use is called an Adaptogen. Adaptogens are herbs that act in non-specific ways to increase resistance to stress, without disrupting the normal biological functions. They come in a myriad of forms such as Ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea (2), licorice root, and medicinal mushrooms, and the benefits are numerous.
Ashwagandha can lower blood sugar, blood pressure, lower inflammation as well as be a natural use for an antidepressant (3). Vitamins that are beneficial for reducing cortisol levels are Vitamin B5 and B12, Vitamin C and D, Magnesium, and Zinc. By adding these in your diet through supplements, you can assist with inflammation, balance hormones, and relieve stress.
2. Change Your Diet
Many foods can lead to unbalanced cortisol levels through inflammation and high blood sugar. Poor diet habits include munching on high sugar snacks, too much coffee, soda with high caffeine content, or eating foods high in trans fat.
To help stabilize your cortisol levels eat clean foods. Eat more foods with fiber, healthy fat and protein, and lots of antioxidants. Examples of these foods are:
fruit and vegetables, fish, grass-fed meat, coconut oil, and probiotic nut-based milk yogurts. One helpful hint is to try to eat the rainbow.
Lots of different colored fruits and vegetables will provide a diverse diet in nutrient-dense foods.
3. Be More Active
Increasing your daily exercise is essential to your health. Regular exercise helps balance your metabolism, generate better sleep habits, and reduces your stress level. When you exercise, it increases the adrenaline and cortisol in your body and then brings those levels back down again to their normal levels (4). This function will help in the future when you encounter stressful situations. Your body will know better when to raise those levels and bring them back down appropriately. Find a type of exercise you enjoy, like running, swimming, hiking, or even walking. Pick one or more and start incorporating it into your lifestyle.
4. Address Your Stress
Life is stressful, and anxiety is a hard thing to avoid. In today’s world, stress and anxiety are a significant issue due to the demands of modern life and lack of self-care. When you are feeling anxious or fearful, there are many ways to address it. We recommend you find the best method for you. It could be deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, walking, spending time outdoors or even acupuncture treatments. Get creative!
5. Sleep More, Please
Another great way to provide real rest for your body is by sleeping. If you’re not getting enough sleep (seven to nine hours each night) or peaceful sleep, your cortisol levels can be chronically high (5, 6). Try to go to bed and wake up at regular, consistent times, with the goal of getting at least 8 hours of sleep. That will help balance your cortisol levels which will, in turn, lead to less stress. If you have problems such as sleep apnea, snoring, frequent awakenings, or non-restorative sleep it is essential to find the cause of these factors as they can significantly affect deep restorative sleep.
We know that life gets hectic and busy with your family, your job, your friends, and life’s activities. We all struggle to maintain a healthy balance these days. On top of that, if you are also dealing with abnormal weight gain, constant depression, high blood pressure, and fatigue, the root problem can be due to elevated cortisol levels.
The first step to addressing high cortisol levels is lowering your stress. Start with small steps to help your body manage the disease-causing hormone cortisol.
Who doesn’t enjoy getting a good night’s sleep, being generous, taking a walk, or eating wholesome, delicious food? We all love doing these things.
Are You Ready for Less Stress?
If you are ready to start addressing your stress with lifestyle changes, please contact us at Third River Health, as we can help! And don’t forget to join us for one of our upcoming wellness retreats.