Tips To Manage Stressful Situations
It might surprise you to learn that biological stress is a fairly recent discovery. It wasnt until the late 1950s that endocrinologist Hans Selye first identified and documented stress.
Symptoms of stress existed long before Selye, but his discoveries led to new research that has helped millions cope with stress. Weve compiled a list of the top 10 ways to relieve stress.
Natural Ways To Lower Cortisol
If the communication between the brain and the adrenal gland is functioning correctly, the body should be able to increase and reduce cortisol production as necessary.
However, levels of cortisol can sometimes remain high even after the resolution of a stressful situation. This can have a negative impact on health.
The following simple tips may help to moderate cortisol levels:
Cut Out Things That Add To Your Stress
Sometimes, the best way to reduce your stress is to cut something out of your life. Get rid of the things that are adding to your stress so you can experience more peace.
Watching the news, being constantly connected to your digital devices, drinking alcohol, and consuming too much caffeine are just a few of the things that may add more stress to your life. Making some changes to your daily habits could be instrumental in helping you feel better.
Also Check: How Much Is Estradiol
Read Also: What Is Stress And Anxiety
Take Care Of Yourself
Taking care of yourself requires taking care of your physical and mental well-being. Learning to let go of detrimental thinking or feelings can help you take care of yourself. When you feel shame, guilt, or inadequacy, it can lead to elevated cortisol.
In these instances, you must find a way to take care of yourself and overcome the negativity. Work on forgiving and accepting yourself and others, and youll notice an improvement in your sense of well-being.
Take care of your physical health, too. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water each day because your body requires it to regulate cortisol levels. Dehydration has the opposite effect and can trigger high cortisol.
When To Lower Your Cortisol Load
While you donât want to lower your cortisol load altogether, you definitely want to avoid high levels of this stress hormone later in the day, especially as your bedtime draws near.
Unfortunately, everyday factors like sleep loss, chronic stress, and circadian misalignment incite HPA hyperactivity. In this scenario, cortisol continues to circulate in your system even after a stressor has passed. This spells trouble for your nighttime sleep as you:
- Wake up more frequently in the middle of the night,
- Have less restorative deep sleep, and,
- Cut short your total sleep duration
Lo and behold, youâve now accrued sleep debt, the amount of sleep youâve missed out on in the past 14 days relative to your sleep need.
You can blame your shoddy sleep patterns on the corticotropin-releasing hormone . Itâs a precursor to cortisol secretion that represses melatonin production. For the uninitiated, melatonin is a sleepiness-promoting hormone naturally created in your body when you’re in the dark. Think of it as the key that unlocks the gateway to sleep.
Unfortunately, excessive amounts of the stress hormone delay melatonin synthesis, so youâre more likely to stay up past your bedtime. And we all know what that entails: Late-night activities like phone-scrolling and Netflix-binging, all of which expose you to bright artificial light, further suspending the manufacturing of melatonin within your body.
Also Check: What Can Stress Do To Your Brain
More Ways To Balance Cortisol Levels
Foods and herbs are important for coping with stress and supporting your mood, but theres no single food thats going to do it all, says integrative medicine doctor Yufang Lin, MD, who claims you have to look at the whole lifestyle picture.
1. Exercise is important for releasing accumulated stress and releasing endorphins that improve mood.
2. Acupuncture and Shiatsu treatment are very effective in releasing accumulated stress in the body and treating the energy regulation that contributes to improving glandular activity.
I have an acupressure mat that I use at home at least 3 times a week for just 5 minutes.
3. Sleeping well A bad nights sleep or more prolonged sleep deprivation can lead to increased levels of cortisol in the bloodstream.
4. Simple Relaxation Techniques Meditation, mindfulness, and even simple breathing exercises can help you deal with stress much more effectively. I love doing breathing exercises, and they have helped me stop anxiety attacks dead in their track.
I use my Muse headband Meditation device every day see my results!
5. Taking up a hobby Hobbies can be a rewarding and satisfying way to lead a fuller and healthier life, and they can lead to an increased sense of well-being.
For example, studies have shown that gardening and reading led to decreased levels of cortisol. It also seemed to improve quality of life more than conventional occupational therapy.
How To Lower Cortisol Levels Its More Than Reducing Stress
Contrary to popular misconception, learning how to lower cortisol levels isnât solely about naturopathic remedies. For example, supplements like ashwagandha, prebiotics, probiotics, and magnesium are revered for their cortisol-regulating properties. While these substances may or may not work, your goal shouldnât be to keep your cortisol load low all the time.
The thing is, your body requires high cortisol concentrations at the right times and low cortisol levels at other times . This keeps yourself in circadian alignment such that you feel and function at your best.
Ahead, we explain how a healthy cortisol rhythm works so you have a better idea of when and how to lower your cortisol levels when you need to. Itâs all about making this hormone work for you instead of against you.
Recommended Reading: How To Grow Your Hair Back After Stress
What Triggers The Adrenal Glands To Produce Cortisol
Cortisol production by the adrenal glands is regulated by the pituitary gland. The pituitary is a pea-sized gland at the base of the brain that is sometimes referred to as the “master gland” because of its wider effects on the body.
When you wake up, exercise or youre facing a stressful event, your pituitary gland reacts. It sends a signal to the adrenal glands to produce just the right quantity of cortisol.
Lower Your Sugar Intake
Minimizing added sugar intake may be instrumental in optimizing hormone function and avoiding obesity, diabetes, and other diseases.
The simple sugar fructose is present in many types of sugar, comprising up to 43% of honey, 50% of refined table sugar, 55% of high fructose corn syrup, and 90% of agave .
In addition, sugar-sweetened beverages are the primary source of added sugars in the Western diet, and fructose is commonly used commercially in soft drinks, fruit juice, and sport and energy drinks .
Fructose intake has increased exponentially in the United States since around 1980, and studies consistently show that eating added sugar promotes insulin resistance regardless of total calorie intake or weight gain .
Long-term fructose intake has been linked to disruptions of the gut microbiome, which may lead to other hormonal imbalances .
Whats more, fructose may fail to stimulate the production of the fullness hormone leptin, leading to decreased calorie burning and increased weight gain .
Therefore, reducing your intake of sugary drinks and other sources of added sugar may improve hormone health.
Diets high in sugar have been shown to promote insulin resistance, disrupt your gut microbiome, and reduce leptin production. Thus, lowering your sugar intake may aid hormonal health.
Don’t Miss: How To Reduce Cortisol Stress
Natural Ways To Balance Your Hormones
Hormones are chemical messengers that have profound effects on your mental, physical, and emotional health. For instance, they play a major role in controlling your appetite, weight, and mood.
Typically, your body produces the precise amount of each hormone needed for various processes to keep you healthy.
However, sedentary lifestyles and Western dietary patterns may affect your hormonal environment. In addition, levels of certain hormones decline with age, and some people experience a more dramatic decrease than others.
However, a nutritious diet and other healthy lifestyle habits may help improve your hormonal health and allow you to feel and perform your best.
Here are 10 natural ways to balance your hormones.
Cortisol And Blood Glucose
Cortisol acts as a catabolic hormone to increase glucose availability to the brain. This occurs via several pathways. High cortisol levels induce gluconeogenesis in the liver which will then be delivered into the bloodstream. The body must use amino acids to complete this process and the bodys most readily available supply of protein is skeletal muscle.Therefore, muscle tissue is broken down, glycogen stores are emptied, and the muscles decrease glucose uptake. Additionally, cortisol instructs the pancreas to decrease insulin production to keep the circulating levels of glucose higher .
You May Like: Can Stress Make You Feel Dizzy
Talk It Out With A Friend
When youre feeling stressed, take a break to call a friend and talk about your problems. Good relationships with friends and loved ones are important to any healthy lifestyle.
Theyre especially important when youre under a lot of stress. A reassuring voice, even for a minute, can put everything in perspective.
When Not To Lower Your Bodys Cortisol Reserves
High cortisol levels arenât necessarily ruinous for you. As you can see from the previous section, a pre-dawn cortisol hike coincides with the usual hours for waking up. Without the alertness-boosting effects of this hormone, it becomes that much more difficult to push through your morning sleep inertia and feel like youâve had a full night of invigorating sleep.
Cortisol is also vital to your overall health throughout the day as it helps:
- Mediate your stress response
- Regulate your metabolism rate for energy production
- Fight inflammation to boost your bodyâs rest-and-repair mechanism
- Develop and maintain a functioning immune system
On a medical note, too-low cortisol levels lead to a health issue known as Addisonâs disease. Itâs a manifestation of adrenal gland disorder commonly accompanied by symptoms like low blood pressure and low blood sugar levels.
Also Check: Can You Get Tinnitus From Stress
How To Reduce Cortisol The Stress Hormone
Chronic stress can lead to an elevated cortisol level, resulting in mental, emotional, and physical health issues. Learn how to reduce cortisol naturally.
If its been awhile since youve felt truly relaxed and happy, you may be suffering from a common modern malady an excess of cortisol.
Cortisol is a major stress hormone that contributes to mental health disorders and a wide range of physical illnesses.
In this article, we review the many proven ways to decrease cortisol naturally.
How Does Cortisol Affect Health
The bodys adaptations of high levels of cortisol to increase blood glucose levels and catecholamines may be a highly effective short-term strategy for dealing with stress, but what happens when this hormone is chronically elevated? Although high cortisol temporarily decreases inflammation, exposure to the hormone long-term will have the opposite effect.In a sense, just as people can become insulin resistant from long-term exposure to high insulin levels, the same occurs with cortisol. Since cortisol fails to function as an anti-inflammatory in the presence of a stress stimulus, the result is a chronic state of inflammation in the body in the setting of the metabolic responses .The health consequences of this state have been linked to many conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, sleep disorders, and autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, there is some research that has led some to theorize that many idiopathic autoimmune conditions may be caused by chronic cortisol elevation .Most commonly, metabolic syndrome is a constellation of conditions fat accumulation) that is highly associated with cortisol elevation .
Read Also: How To Stop Overeating From Stress
Remove Stressors From Your Life
Get rid of the things that increase stress if you can. “If you find that work is the cause of your stress, try checking your email less often, and not opening up your computer right when you wake up,” says Clebaner. She also recommends turning off the news. These are a couple of simple ways to nix the stressors in our environment.
Start A Mindfulness Practice
You can practice mindfulness through meditation, yoga, journaling, taking quiet walks in nature, or practicing deep breathing. It doesnt 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
Don’t Miss: Does Stress Make You Feel Sick
Laughing And Having Fun
It is hard to feel stressed when having a good time, so finding time to have fun can also lower a persons cortisol levels. One study showed cortisol levels decreasing in response to laughter.
Being happy and having a positive outlook appear to be related to lower cortisol levels, and happiness has other benefits too, such as lower blood pressure and a stronger immune system.
How To Check Your Cortisol Levels At Home
As I mentioned, high levels of cortisol can lead to symptoms such as high blood pressure, a flushed face, muscle weakness, increased thirst, frequent urination, mood changes and irritability, weight gain in the abdomen and face, and bruises or purple stretch marks appearing on the skin, impaired brain function, and more.
You can easily check your cortisol levels at home with the EverlyWell at home cortisol test, which measures cortisol, cortisone, melatonin, and creatinine. These hormones affect your sleep cycle and stress response.
everlywell cortisol test$199 at everlywell
The sample is collected from the urine, and you get the results within days. The process is quick and easy.
A more budget pick would be the HealthConfirm cortisol saliva test, which measures your adrenal gland hormones 4 days a day through your saliva, and then shipping the samples off to the labs. Youll get the result within 3-5 days into your secure profile at their website.
In conclusion, a proper diet will support and help the body overcome and continue to repair the damage caused to it in times of stress and stress, and most importantly will strengthen and assist in healing the body, with their prolongation or prolonged presence of these conditions.
There are many more ways to reduce stress hormones, including exercise, acupuncture, sleeping well, simple relaxation techniques, and taking up a hobby.
To your health and happiness,
You May Like: How To Reduce Stress Bloating
Follow A High Fiber Diet
Fiber is essential to a healthy diet.
Studies have found that it increases insulin sensitivity and stimulates the production of hormones that make you feel full (
Researchers believe that this diet increases your intake of protective plant compounds such as polyphenols and lignans .
Replacing a diet high in red meat and processed and refined foods with a Mediterranean-style diet rich in whole grains, legumes, and fish may help you manage your estrogen levels.
Which Foods Reduce Stress
Food choices affect serotonin levels, which in turn influences happiness. Eating the right foods can help clients improve physical, emotional, and mental stress.
Stress depletes the body of many vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins C, B, and E. Even more of a reason to replenish lost nutrients. You must know how to adjust diets to effectively combat stress.
This will help you build a successful career in nutrition. Lets look at foods that provide nutrients to help reduce stress.
Recommended Reading: How To Help Someone With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Cultivate Good Sleep Hygiene 24/7
Prioritize good sleep hygiene all the time as it keeps your sleep debt low and your body clock in circadian alignment to combat excess cortisol the natural way. From perfecting the ideal sleep environment to cutting off your caffeine consumption, healthy, sleep-promoting behaviors help you get the hours of sleep you need for better energy during the day.
In particular, well-timed light exposure is of vital importance. Light is one of the most potent circadian cues that reset your internal clock. Expose yourself to bright natural light the moment you awake. Steer clear of artificial light sources in the few hours before bed. We recommend wearing blue-light blocking glasses before bedtime to protect your eyeballs from the wavelengths that dampen melatonin production. Doing so helps keep your circadian rhythm running smoothly and meet your sleep need more easily.
Strategic light exposure is only one of the many pieces to the puzzle of optimal sleep hygiene. Only when you have all the tabs in place will you be able to form the full picture of healthy sleep practices and their benefits. To learn the gamut of good sleep hygiene, check out our in-depth Sleep Guide.
What Happens When You Produce Too Much Or Little Cortisol
Symptoms of too much cortisol include:
- weight gain, particularly around the abdomen and face
- thin and fragile skin that is slow to heal
- for women, facial hair and irregular menstrual periods
Symptoms of not enough cortisol include:
If you experience any of these symptoms, your doctor may suggest you have a blood test to measure your cortisol levels.
Recommended Reading: What Vitamins To Take For Stress