When we are stressed, our levels of cortisol – known as the stress hormone – increase. This hormone is released by the adrenal glands and can be extremely useful because it gets our body ready to either run away or fight against whatever is causing stress and fear. However, chronically high cortisol levels can cause many problems, including high blood pressure, weight gain, fatigue, negative feelings, and heart disease. Therefore, in order to stay as healthy as possible, it is important to lower your cortisol levels. Here are some ways to do just that.
Sleep is a great healer and can make us feel better no matter what the issue. When it comes to lowering your cortisol levels, the amount of quality sleep you get is all-important. When you sleep well and for long enough (around seven to eight hours on average for an adult, although some people need more, and some need less), your body has a chance to repair itself so that you feel ready and refreshed the following day. When you don’t get enough sleep, or the sleep you do get is disrupted and not deep enough, you will feel sluggish and fatigued the next day. This causes your cortisol levels to rise.
If you want to be able to sleep well and reduce your cortisol, then exercise is a good idea. Being as physically active as possible during your waking hours will make sleep much easier to come by. You should also avoid caffeine after around four o’clock if you are susceptible to it. Plus, turning off screens in your bedroom (and for as long before bed as you can) will also help.
The right amount of exercise can decrease high levels of cortisol, but too much can increase it, so getting the balance right is something that you will need to think about if this is how you want to de-stress. After intense exercise, your cortisol levels will increase, but this is actually a good thing in this case because it is your body’s way of rising to meet the challenge that you are putting in front of it. Plus, over time, less cortisol will be required to do this. As long as you do your exercise in the daytime, your cortisol levels will have reduced again by the time you want to go to bed, making it easier to sleep.
Spot Stressful Thinking
Even thinking of stressful things can cause a spike in your cortisol levels, so knowing when your mind is beginning to take you to more worrying areas is essential – if you know it is happening, you can stop it and reduce the damage that the cortisol is going to cause.
This is not an easy thing to do, especially at the start, but if you can try to live mindfully and not worry about the past (which can’t be changed) or the future (which, if you can change it you can do something about it, such as getting credit help from Compare Credit, otherwise, again, there is nothing to worry about). Living in the moment is not something humans are programmed to do, but when you can do it, it increases positivity in your life hugely.