INSIDE THIS ARTICLE:
2. 10 tips to naturally reduce your cortisol levels for a more balanced life.
Cortisol is casually tossed around as an ominous, ill-defined thing to be afraid of, much like the boogie man kids were told to fear. When in fact, cortisol is actually great for you when it works as it should. But for most of the population, it works against you because stressors elevate it and it can’t come back down. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce your cortisol so you feel all its benefits.
What's the #1 cause of elevated cortisol?
There are things in your environment you might not realize are stressors. Burning the midnight oil, dieting, over-exercising, and loading up on caffeine and sugary snacks to power through the day all adds to your body’s daily stress load.
The result of all that stress and elevated cortisol? It can impact everything from energy reserves to physical appearance. Not to mention, it increases the risk for some serious health problems. Like feeling and looking not so stellar isn’t bad enough, right?
With so many hats to wear, your cortisol has a lot on its plate. When cortisol levels are out of whack, a domino effect ensues, and it impacts other hormones and bodily systems.
So, you need to reduce your cortisol levels and get your hormone system to operate the way it was designed to
How to Reduce Your Cortisol Naturally
Life is stressful. Even though we’d all love to lie on the beach with a mojito in one hand and a scrumptious snack in the other, it’s just not possible. Bills need to be paid, houses need to be cleaned, and tiny humans or fur babies need to be taken care of. Plants also need to be watered. Can’t forget about the plants.
Clearly, you can’t eliminate every source of stress from your life, but you can learn how to reduce stress hormones with new habits that help how your body responds to stress
Balancing stress with relaxation is a key component of what lowers cortisol. Some of the best ways to lower cortisol naturally include self-care practices that help relax your body and mind.
10 tips to naturally reduce your cortisol levels for a more balanced life.
Set good sleep habits.
Seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night is the gold standard for optimal health and it makes for a powerful cortisol reducer. If you’re not clocking enough sleep, try going to bed earlier. And if you feel wired late into the evening, try dimming the lights and powering down phones, computers, and TVs at least one hour before bedtime
The blue light from electronic devices throws off our sleep-wake cycle known as our circadian rhythm and makes it harder to fall asleep. Replace Netflix with a book, warm bath, or relaxing music to help you unwind and prepare for sleep. Candles, aromatherapy, and sound machines can also help you relax before bedtime.
Learn how to breathe
Yes, learn how to breathe. Now, you’re probably thinking, “you’ve got to be joking, I’ve been breathing my whole, it’s the one thing I do right”. But maybe that’s not entirely true. The poet Mary Oliver wrote, “Listen—are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?” When’s the last time you paid attention to your breathing? Most of us spend our days unconsciously taking shallow breaths. Deep breathing, or belly breaths, can trigger a relaxation response and give cortisol the cue to chill. In a study conducted by Xiao Ma and colleagues, researchers found that 20 sessions of deep breathing over an eight week period showed a significant increase in sustained attention in participants and significantly lower cortisol levels compared to the control group. This relaxation effect may be because deep breathing increases blood oxygen levels, massages inner organs, and potentially stimulates the vagus nerve. Since the vagus nerve can help you deal with stress and anxiety, it makes sense that stimulating this nerve with deep breathing may help to reduce stress and anxiety. To put this into practice, try taking a few minutes to practice breath work when you’re feeling stressed and make it a habit at the end of the day when you’re unwinding before bed. You’re not just breathing to survive, you’re breathing to thrive.
Move your body
You need exercise for a strong, toned body — but movement also does wonders for your mind. Exercise is a major player on the list of what lowers cortisol. Your brain releases feel-good endorphins when you exercise or “get into” your body. Research has shown endorphins have significant benefits, including the impact on cortisol levels. And moving your body can release enough endorphins to help bring cortisol down, which can help retrain your body to lower cortisol after stress events. So if your main goal for exercise has been to make your ex regret all their life choices, lowering your cortisol levels can be a great motivation to keep you going.
Get enough to eat
Sustenance. We all need it, but sometimes, when you’re busy, it’s easy to skip meals or get by on quick snacks. Not eating enough calories puts extra stress on the body and, you guessed it, increases cortisol levels. Technically speaking, dieting can increase cortisol levels. That’s because diets add stress to your rather large stress pile. You know the stress pile that’s even larger than your laundry pile you’ve been ignoring for a few weeks. But even if you aren’t dieting, under-eating creates the same effect. To avoid this, stick to three nutritious meals a day plus snacks to ensure you’re getting enough food to reduce cortisol. Making time for regular meals will provide your body with enough energy and it will also force you to take a break, slow down, and enjoy your food. If you’re on a diet for weight loss reasons, then make sure to not overdo it with calorie restriction. Crash diets mess with your cortisol levels but also various other hormones.
Build a healthy plate
It’s not just eating that matters, it’s what you eat, too. Meals and snacks should contain a mix of fat, protein, and fiber. This formula is a cortisol reducer that provides sustainable energy, stabilizes blood sugar levels, and fills you up. High cortisol levels can intensify cravings for sugar and processed snacks, which are no friend to healthy cortisol levels or your body. Not to mention it will turn you into a gobble monster that absorbs everything in your pantry and fridge. Now we don’t judge the odd late night pantry raid, but consistently binging on not so healthy foods because of cravings is not the way. The best foods that reduce cortisol are healthy fats, like avocados and nuts, plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, like oatmeal and quinoa, and plenty of lean proteins.
Go easy on caffeine
Now you may be reading this and thinking “not my cuppa Joe, I need it to human”. The good news is you don’t have to give your morning cup of coffee the boot, but bear in mind caffeine raises cortisol levels.
So, it’s best to limit yourself to one or two cups of java a day and back off on caffeine intake after 2 PM so it doesn’t interfere with your sleep. Green tea is a good substitute, as it has less caffeine than coffee and contains L-theanine, an amino acid that helps combat stress. Both green tea leaf and L-theanine are included in Rebalance products for their stress-busting properties.
Start a mindfulness practice
You can practice mindfulness through meditation, yoga, journaling, taking quiet walks in nature, or practicing deep breathing. It doesn’t matter which mindful activities you do, as long as you find a way to get in touch with your thoughts and clear space in your mind. Pay attention to negative or self-limiting thoughts that trigger anxiety. Identifying your thought patterns is the first step in shifting your perspective toward a more calm and peaceful prerogative. And if mindfulness practices don’t quite do the trick, consider getting an anxiety busting boost with our Anxiety System. It’s designed to help you get anxiety and stress relief without any nasty side effects.
Fresh air and sunshine are the original Zen masters — they have a way of clearing your head, which translates to lower cortisol levels. Spend some time in nature and admire the beauty of mother earth. Whether it’s sitting on a park bench, hiking a trail, or just strolling your tree-lined neighborhood streets, getting outside reminds you that you’re part of a bigger world, and can help shift your perspective, thus reducing stress.
Make time for what you love
You’ve undoubtedly heard that everyone needs some R and R, or rest and relaxation. But most people are only taking care of the Rest part of the calculation. While taking a break and resting is important, doing things you love sets your soul on fire and re-invigorates you. Doing more of what you love can reduce your cortisol and can help you feel more excited about life and what it offers. Too often we get caught up in our must-dos and forget to make time to be creative, play games, get lost in a good book, learn something new, or plan a date with our significant others, friends, and family. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you need to stop playing. Make time for your hobbies and interests, and if you don’t have any, it’s time to be adventurous and try something new.
Consider stress support
While life has become easier in many ways, it has also become much harder in other ways. Now we aren’t complaining about not having to hunt and gather to stave off starvation, but the modern world comes with modern conveniences AND modern stressors. Life is more fast-paced than it has ever been and the constant need to keep up puts your brain and body in overdrive. And unfortunately, sometimes you can do everything right and still be a stress ball. That’s where stress and anxiety support steps in. If you’re already ticking the boxes and there’s not much else you can do to lower your stress, then trying stress support supplements can be a great way to get you that extra stress and anxiety relief.
Enter, adaptogens. These substances are all-natural plant-based ingredients that can help your body better handle stress and anxiety and reduce your body’s production of cortisol. They have a long history of use in traditional medicinal practices, like Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda.
Our Anxiety System™ contains a blend of adaptogens, including maca, ashwagandha, cordyceps, panax ginseng, and green tea extract, along with other natural Superceutical™ ingredients. This powerful complex of adaptogens helps manage your stress and anxiety throughout the day so you can feel Zen wherever you are.
Balancing stress with physical, mental, and emotional self-care is an ongoing practice. You’re not always going to get it all right, but remember, it’s okay to not be perfect and occasionally drop the ball. So you can have that cookie every now and again. We checked with the Cookie Monster. He’s totally on board.
Focus on taking time to cultivate self-care and stress management habits to help you learn how to reduce cortisol levels and improve your overall well-being. And do your best to take care of yourself as often as you can.