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10 Ways to Reduce Your Cortisol Levels and Stress

Cortisol is casually tossed around, usually the same way kids were told about the boogie man – as an ominous, ill-defined thing to be afraid of. Cortisol is actually great for us when it works as it should. But for the majority of the population, it works against us because stressors elevate it and it forgets how to come back down. There are ways to reduce cortisol so you feel all its benefits.

What's the #1 Cause of Elevated Cortisol?

Stressed man

There are things in our environment we 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 add to our body’s daily stress load.

The result of all that stress and elevated cortisol? It can impact everything from energy reserves to physical appearance, and ups the risk for some serious health problems.

So, obviously we need to find ways to reduce our cortisol levels, getting our hormone system to operate the way it was designed to. With so many hats to wear, our 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. 

How to Reduce Cortisol Naturally

We can’t eliminate every source of stress from our lives, but we can learn how to reduce stress hormones with new habits that help how the body responds to stress.

Balancing stress with relaxation is a key component to what lowers cortisol. Some of the best ways to naturally lower cortisol include self-care practices that help relax your body and mind. 

Here are 10 tips to naturally lower cortisol levels and enjoy a more balanced lifestyle.

1. 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 bumping bedtime up. 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.

2. Learn how to breathe. 

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 breath? 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. 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.

3. 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 significant benefits of endorphin impact on cortisol levels. Moving your body can release enough endorphins to help bring cortisol down, and, thus, help retrain your body to lower cortisol after stress events.

4. Get enough to eat.

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. Sticking to three nutritious meals a day plus snacks ensures you’re getting enough food to reduce cortisol. Making time for regular meals will provide your body with enough energy. It will also force you to take a break, slow down, and enjoy your food.

5. 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. 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 lean proteins.

6. Go easy on caffeine.

You don’t have to give your morning cup of coffee the boot, but if you’re drinking

Green Tea

Caffeine raises cortisol levels even further. 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. 

7. 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 clearspace 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

8. Get outside.

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 you’re part of a bigger world, and can help shift your perspective, thus, reducing stress.

9. Make time for what you love.

Doing what you love

Doing more of what you love can reduce your cortisol. 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.

10. Consider stress support.

Adaptogens are all-natural plant-based ingredients that can help your body better handle stress 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. 

The Rebalance Stress Management System™ contains a blend of adaptogens, including maca, ashwagandha, cordyceps, panax ginseng, and astragalus root, along with other natural Superceutical™ ingredients. 

Men andwomen have different hormone needs. The Rebalance Stress Management System is uniquely formulated to support balanced cortisol levels around the clock for everyone. 

Balancing stress with physical, mental, and emotional self-care is an ongoing practice. Take time to cultivate self-care and stress management habits to help you learn how to reduce cortisol levels and improve overall well-being.