Experiencing Stress? Effective Strategies to Naturally Lower Cortisol Levels

Experiencing Stress? Effective Strategies to Naturally Lower Cortisol Levels

When experiencing stress, it’s common to attribute it to cortisol, often referred to as the stress hormone. High cortisol levels can put your body on high alert, causing you to feel edgy or tense. Symptoms may include a racing heartbeat, shaking, sweating, and light-headedness. According to a 2022 study published in the US National Library of Medicine, prolonged high cortisol levels can lead to various health issues, including diabetes, weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, and mood swings. To maintain your well-being, it’s essential to learn how to naturally reduce cortisol levels.

What is cortisol? Cortisol is a hormone produced and released by your adrenal glands, which are endocrine glands located on top of your kidneys. Dr. Ruchi Jain, Consultant Psychologist at Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre in Mumbai, explains that cortisol plays a pivotal role in regulating numerous bodily processes, including metabolism and the immune response. When cortisol remains chronically high, it can suppress the body’s immune function.

Cushing’s syndrome is a hormonal disorder triggered by excessive cortisol levels in the body. Common symptoms include:

  • Rapid weight gain, primarily in the face, abdomen, and chest.
  • A round and flushed facial appearance.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Skin changes, such as purple-colored bruises and stretch marks.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Mood swings.

How to naturally reduce cortisol levels: In most cases, the brain and adrenal glands can self-regulate cortisol levels, which drop as stress subsides, says the expert. However, individuals dealing with chronic stress can employ natural methods to lower cortisol:

  1. Stress Reduction: Stress is a primary catalyst for cortisol production, so reducing stress can effectively lower cortisol levels. Dr. Jain suggests practicing ‘Locus Of Control,’ which entails not worrying about matters beyond your control.
  2. Relaxation Techniques: People grappling with stress should incorporate relaxation techniques into their routines, such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, and outdoor walks. These practices activate the relaxation response, counteracting the stress response.
  3. Balanced Diet: Pay close attention to your diet, with a focus on moderating sugar and caffeine intake. Consuming plenty of water also aids in cortisol reduction. Incorporate foods known to lower cortisol levels, including garlic, vitamin C-rich foods, black or green tea, and probiotic foods.
  4. Adequate Sleep: Insufficient sleep can disrupt cortisol levels in the bloodstream. Establish a healthy bedtime routine, disconnect from electronic devices, and avoid screens at least an hour before bedtime to improve sleep quality.
  5. Pursue Hobbies: Engaging in hobbies serves as both relaxation and reward, diverting your mind from stressors and providing something to anticipate. Consider stress-relieving hobbies such as drawing, painting, cooking, creative writing, or playing a musical instrument.
  6. Enjoyment: Allocating time for enjoyment can contribute to lower cortisol levels. When you’re having fun, stress tends to take a back seat. Laughter, in particular, offers therapeutic benefits, as noted by the expert.
  7. Exercise: Regular physical activity not only promotes overall health but also enhances mood. Engage in low to moderate impact exercises to help manage cortisol levels effectively.
  8. Nurture Relationships: Building stable, loving relationships with your partner, friends, and family creates a strong support system, aiding in leading a happier, less stressful life.

Additionally, prioritize self-care to reduce cortisol levels and achieve overall well-being.

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