6 Natural Ways To Lower Cortisol
Stress affects us all at different stages of our lives. It can change our moods, sleeping pattern and mental health. Did you know that the reason you’re feeling stressed could be due to your cortisol levels being a little out of whack?
Cortisol is commonly known as the ‘stress hormone’. So, when you’re dealt with a difficult situation - fight or flight - you can thank cortisol for that sudden, automatic reaction and rush of adrenaline. Although we need this natural hormone change to survive in dangerous situations, too much cortisol can have an extremely negative effect on our bodies. This hormone can really take its toll on us; causing weight gain, acne, and high blood pressure.
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is created in the adrenal gland – found above the kidneys – with higher levels produced in the morning which reduce throughout the day. Cortisol is found in all of us, but the quantity is dependent on the amount of stress you hold in your body, and experience in your day to day life. If someone is suffering from chronic stress, they will have a higher amount of cortisol in their body than someone who is perfectly healthy and stress-free.
Although this makes the hormone sounds a little doom and gloom, it does have some redeeming factors when at a healthy quantity;
- Keeps sugar levels balanced
- Helps fetal development
- Reduces inflammation
- Supports cognitive processes, i.e memory, and learning
- Respond and escape danger
- Prevents fatigue
- Helps keep our bodies awake
When our body releases ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) the levels of cortisol will rise, sending signals for your adrenaline to raise the cortisol production. This is great if you’re running away from danger, but when this reaction happens due to illness, lack of sleep or a poor lifestyle, your body will be in an unhealthy state of adrenaline when it should be calm and relaxed.
If you think of it this way…when your body is in fight or flight mode, it will neglect other functions of the body for survival. So, if your body is in a constant state of high cortisol, it won’t turn the other systems on causing the body to behave in an unhealthy way!
How Do You Know If Your Cortisol Levels Are Too High?
Having high levels of cortisol can cause long term issues which will shut down a lot of normal bodily functions. Normal reproductive functions and digestive and immune system functions will be negatively affected by high levels of cortisol.
Weight gain, fatigue, and acne are just a few of the negative effects your body will suffer from due to a high level of cortisol. None of which are going to make you feel very good in yourself!
Here at Organica, we have found 6 natural ways to help lower your cortisol levels to stop any of the above from happening!
1. Reduce Stress
If you keep your stress at a healthy, balanced level, you could seriously help reduce your cortisol production. Of course, a normal amount of stress a day is fine, but it can easily all get a little overwhelming.
There are lots of ways you can help reduce your stress; pamper days, self-massage and a nice long bath. Making sure you give yourself some to unwind and relax is essential. Holding a lot of stress in your body isn’t doing your health any favors.
2. Regular Exercise
Getting in a little regular exercise is a great way to help manage stress. If you get your body moving for 30 – 60 mins, 3 times a week, your stress levels will reduce drastically. Keeping yourself active can also improve your sleep at night, restore a normal metabolic function and can help balance out your hormones – particularly the one causing your body to feel stress!
3. Essential Oils
Introducing your body to a few essential oils could do you a world of good. Not only can it help balance your hormone levels but can help fight and reduce stress. Scents like lavender, bergamot, cedarwood, and myrrh all have proven qualities that will help the body naturally lower cortisol, improve immunity and reduce inflammation.
Our Pure Rest Oil has an expert blend of lavender, bergamot and cedarwood oil – made to help increase your levels of serotonin and induce deep relaxation for both your mind and body. Apply a small amount onto your temples, behind the ears, neck, and wrists and feel your body begin to relax and unwind.
4. Anti-Inflammatory Diet
When you suffer from low blood sugar levels or high levels of inflammation, it can increase your levels of cortisol. Avoiding processed foods can help you reduce the chances of a large fluctuation in blood glucose. This is where foods high in antioxidants, fibers, and nutrients are your friend – helping your body balance out the hormones.
To naturally avoid a spike in your cortisol levels, try not to consume;
- High sugar food
- Drinks and foods full of caffeine and alcohol
- Refined and trans fats
- Not enough protein and healthy fats
- Not enough fiber
5. Herbs and Super Foods
Another simple way of helping naturally reduce the levels of cortisol in your body is by introducing adaptogen herbs and superfoods to your diet. They will help maintain the correct hormone levels and will also help reduce inflammation, high blood pressure, and lower fatigue.
So, adding the odd ashwagandha, licorice root or medicinal mushroom to your dinner could help your body regain its natural hormone balance.
Sleep is incredibly important! Not only does getting the right amount of sleep help you function better emotionally but it also has a huge part to play in how well your body copes with stress. Having a high level of cortisol can, unfortunately, affected how well you sleep at night. So, if you’re stressed and not sleeping, those levels will be high and unbalanced causing you to find difficulty sleeping the next night and the night after that…a very cruel cycle!
You might find yourself feeling extremely tired in the mornings but wide awake at night. This can make you feel grumpy, emotional and sluggish. But once you find ways to combat the high levels of the stress hormones, your body will become a lot more relaxed, helping you drift off into a long, deep sleep.
Not knowing what is going on inside your body can be frustrating, especially if you didn't realize that your actions throughout the day were causing more damage to your hormone levels. Stress is very powerful and can make our bodies react in strange ways that will only do more damage if not looked after. But, fear not! Following the 6 steps above will help your body find it's natural rhythm again and help get you back to feeling relaxed, calm and healthy.
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