6 Natural Ways To Lower Your Cortisol Levels
Are you finding yourself feeling overly stressed or tired? This could mean your cortisol levels are too high.
Cortisol is often known as your ‘stress hormone’ as it’s one of the main hormones that release the ‘fight or flight’ response to stressful situations. High levels of cortisol have a negative effect on our bodies and can contribute to acne, weight gain, and even high blood pressure. But if you have the right amount, it's beneficial for our bodies and ultimately, we need it to live! Cortisol keeps us alert, motivated, awake and responsive.
Having a high level of cortisol, however, can become dangerous and cause long-term problems. Chronic-stress and corticosteroids are the two biggest contributors to high cortisol. Having elevated levels of cortisol can cause weight gain, anxiety, sleep disorders, hormonal imbalances and even fertility problems.
So if you feel like your cortisol levels are a little out of control and stress is starting to take over on a day-to-day basis, there are a lot of natural ways to keep them in check. Read on for 6 ways to lower cortisol levels naturally!
6 Ways To Naturally Lower Your Cortisol Levels
1. Switch To a Whole Food/ Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Having either low blood sugar levels or high levels of inflammation can contribute to high cortisol levels, so it's important to make sure you avoid processed foods which cause a spike and dip in blood glucose. On the other hand, foods high in antioxidants, fiber, and nutrients will help balance out your hormones. Foods that contribute to high cortisol levels are:
- High sugar
- Refined and trans fats
- Caffeine and alcohol
- Not consuming enough fibre
- Not consuming enough healthy fats or proteins
2. Reduce And Manage Stress
A manageable level of day-to-day stress is completely normal, and it’s easy to be a little bit overwhelmed from time to time. But when it does get too much, there are a few things you can do to keep it under control. To read the 5 Ways To Reduce Stress, head over to our blog.
3. Exercise Regularly
One of the best ways to manage stress is by exercising regularly, (about 30-60 minutes at least 3 times a week). It helps to balance your hormones, aids better sleep, and restores normal metabolic function.
4. Use Adaptogen Herbs and Superfoods
Adaptogen hormones help naturally lower cortisol levels in a few ways. They help maintain correct hormone levels, reduce inflammation, lower fatigue, balance your blood pressure and even work as a mild anti-depressant.
Some adaptogen herbs include:
- Licorice root
- Holy basil
- Medicinal mushrooms
5. Try Essential Oils
Similarly to adaptogen herbs, essential oils are helpful for fighting stress and balancing hormones. Oils like lavender, myrrh, bergamot, and cedarwood have been shown to naturally lower cortisol, reduce inflammation, improve immunity and help with sleep.
We created Pure Rest using an expert blend of these essential oils. With lavender, bergamot and cedarwood oil, you can naturally increase your serotonin levels and promote the deep relaxation of the mins and body. Ylang Ylang has been shown to have an uplifting effect on your mood, reducing both your blood pressure and stress levels. Grab yours today by clicking through this link!
6. Get Enough Sleep
Sometimes this can turn into a vicious cycle, as sleep can help lower cortisol levels, but if they’re already high it can be hard to sleep. If your circadian rhythm is normal, then your cortisol levels are usually highest in the morning and dip in the evening. But people with high cortisol levels usually experience it the other way round, feeling most wired and anxious at night, but sleepy in the morning.
So, What is cortisol?
Cortisol is created in the adrenal gland, and the levels are highest in the morning (around 7 am) and lowest at night. Cortisol is present in those with chronic stress, and those who are perfectly healthy, but in different quantities. Cortisol is a vital hormone which has so many different purposes throughout the body and cause numerous chemical interactions every day.
Here’s what cortisol actually does in our body:
- Helps us stay awake
- Prevents fatigue and brain fog
- Keeps our metabolism running
- Balances our blood sugar levels
- Reduces inflammation
- Helps with cognitive processes like learning and memory formulation
- Allows us to respond and escape from dangers
- Helps develop the fetus during pregnancy
Levels of cortisol rise when the 'adrenocorticotropic hormone' (ACTH) is released. ACTH signals your adrenalin to release more cortisol. Things like physical or emotional stress, a poor lifestyle, lack of sleep or illness can cause this hormonal reaction.
Symptoms of high cortisol levels
Because cortisol triggers the fight or flight response, having high levels of cortisol can cause this to be activated long-term, which shuts down your normal reproductive, digestive and immune functions. This is because when the body is in danger, it doesn’t need these functions for immediate survival.
Here are some clues that could mean your cortisol levels are too high:
- Weight gain
- A puffy or flushed face
- Mood swings and increased anxiety
- Trouble sleeping normally
- Irregular periods and fertility problems
- High blood pressure
- Acne or other changes to the skin
- Muscle aches and pains
- Changes to libido
- Excessive thirst
- Increased urination
- Lower immune system (more susceptible to infections)
Causes of high cortisol:
- Over-exercising or over-training
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Malnourishment and eating disorders
- Sever kidney or liver disease
- Pregnancy or birth control pills
While cortisol is vital for our body to function, it can cause a lot of problems if your levels get too high, and not just because it causes you to feel constantly stressed. If you're suffering from more than two of the symptoms of high cortisol levels it's worth trying a few of these remedies and see if you feel better, and more relaxed day-to-day.
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