What Happens If Cortisol Levels Are Too High
Chronically elevated cortisol levels are often associated with heart disease and high blood pressure. An excess of the neurotransmitter is also problematic for the brain: studies have shown that too much cortisol damages the nerve cells in the hippocampus the area responsible for your learning ability and memory. Your memory can suffer and you may have difficulty concentrating.
Reduced quality of sleep is also common. Normally, the production of cortisol decreases towards evening and its counterpart, the sleep hormone melatonin, takes over. However, if the release of the stress hormone does not decrease, your body remains on alert. Those affected often have difficulty falling asleep and need more time to recover which in turn can have a negative effect on your fitness.
Studies ¹ also link stress, lack of sleep, and bering overweight. A constant excess of cortisol shifts your system into a kind of survival mode. and all other bodily functions are put on hold for the time being. The consequences can include not only sleep disorders, but also the creation of fat deposits and water retention.
An overview of possible effects of high cortisol levels:
- Heart disease
- Craving for sweets and salty treats
Causes of a cortisol deficiency:
- Chronically low cortisol levels can have the following reasons, among others:
- disease of the adrenal glands, e.g. adrenal insufficiency or adrenogenital syndrome
- Malfunction of the pituitary gland
- Certain medications
How To Get Rid Of Stress Belly
Need to know how to get rid of a stress belly? Here youll discover what causes a stress belly and what really works for getting rid of it. Most people wrongly assume that just losing more weight is going to lose their stress belly fat but it doesnt work like this.
Constant stress can wreak havoc on your body and fat-burning metabolism. So much so it can make it nearly impossible to lose your stomach fat. Its no secret getting rid of stubborn belly fat can be one of the most troublesome spots on the body. And one of the major reasons for this is stress.
Many people with a stressed-out belly might not have ever stored fat there before. Women with a natural pear-shaped body can find stomach fat building up there after having high-stress levels. This can make it confusing how to approach getting rid of the stress belly. Youd think just more to lose weight would be the answer but it rarely is.
If youre worried and self-conscious that your gut sticks out like youre pregnant then this is for you. Once you start doing the best ways to get rid of your abdominal fat then you can quickly start to get that flat stomach even if youve never had one before.
A potbelly from stress can be frustratingly hard to lose. But once youre able to correct your out-of-whack hormones and stress levels then you can start getting her results you want.
Maintaining A Good Bedtime Routine
A good bedtime routine usually results in longer and higher-quality sleep. People should get into the habit of turning off all screens and just relaxing before heading to bed.
It will usually also help to keep phones, and any other potential distractions turned off. Limiting fluid intake before bedtime can also minimize the likelihood of disturbed sleep.
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Learn To Recognize Stressful Thinking
Paying attention to stressful thoughts may help you reduce them.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a strategy that involves becoming more self-aware of stress-provoking thoughts, accepting them without judgment or resistance, and allowing yourself the ability to process them .
Training yourself to be aware of your thoughts, breathing, heart rate, and other signs of tension helps you recognize stress when it begins .
Recognizing stressful thoughts allows you to formulate a conscious and deliberate reaction to them. For example, a study involving 43 women in a mindfulness-based program showed the ability to describe and articulate stress was linked to a lower cortisol response (
Tending to your own happiness can help keep cortisol down. If youre feeling stressed, try listening to music or making yourself laugh.
Other Ways To Relieve Stress
Your diet plays an important role in managing stress symptoms, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. “The main thing in lowering stress is working on daily habits to change our body’s response to stressors around us,” says Moday. “This way you can blunt the release of cortisol over time regardless of the situation.” Here are some techniques that can help:
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Maintain A Proper Sleep Schedule
Stick to your daily sleep routine and try to avoid late nights, even though you probably dont have to get up so early anymore, says Kirkpatrick. Lack of sleep can cause your cortisol levels to stay elevated, so sticking to a regular bedtime can give them a chance to drop off. So find the right balance to help say so-long to stress.
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These Simple Yoga Poses Reduce Your Stress Hormones
Lifes everyday responsibilities produce a lot of stress. Add to that the stress-inducing events of the world, and before you know it, your stress levels are out of control. Learning how to manage stress is essential for your overall health. Yoga is a proven way to reduce stress hormones. It brings together physical and mental techniques to enhance a sense of peace. Yoga allows you to relax as you manage anxiety and stress. Here are fourteen simple yoga poses for you to start reducing stress today.
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How Can You Help Yourself
Stress is a natural reaction to many situations in life, such as work, family, relationships and money problems.
We mentioned earlier on that a moderate amount of stress can help us perform better in challenging situations,34 but too much or prolonged stress can lead to physical problems. This can include lower immunity levels,35 digestive and intestinal difficulties, e.g. irritable bowel syndrome ,36 or mental health problems such as depression.37 It is therefore important that we manage our stress and keep it at a healthy level to prevent long-term damage to our bodies and minds.
Ensure Sufficient Rest And Recovery
Exercise is healthy and can even reduce stress. But it depends on the amount: too intensive workouts are counterproductive. The brain receives the signal that you have to either escape from a threat for example during a marathon or to be ready to fight . The result is an increased release of the stress hormone.
Overtraining causes the amount of cortisol to shoot up, so make sure you get enough rest. That means you shouldnt train every day, and replace the occasional hard workout with a casual jog or bike ride. If you are already very prone to stress, you should be careful with high-intensity workouts such as HIIT. Yoga and meditation are better practices, as they provide peace and balance.
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Eat A Nutritious Diet
Nutrition can influence cortisol for better or for worse.
While all foods can be enjoyed in moderation, being mindful of the foods you eat may alleviate symptoms of stress and help you better manage your cortisol levels.
Regular high added-sugar intake may result in elevated cortisol levels. Interestingly, a high sugar diet may also suppress cortisol release during stressful events, making it more difficult for your body to handle stressful situations (
For better gut and mental health, opt for a nutrient-dense diet full of whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and foods high in prebiotics and probiotics.
How To Reduce Your High Cortisol Level Naturally
Cortisol is a steroid hormone released by the adrenal glands. When the body perceives something as a threat, it triggers your adrenal glands to release cortisol and adrenaline. This natural response results in a burst of new energy and strength.
The body can perceive stress as a threat, which is why cortisol is also known as the stress hormone. As people are getting used to living in a constant state of stress, their cortisol levels remain high. This is extremely disruptive to the body and may result in numerous health problems.
It puts you at a higher risk of reduced production of growth hormone, reduced glucose utilization, sleep apnea, osteoporosis, constipation, poor immunity, reduced muscle mass and increased abdominal fat.
It is very important to control the level of the stress hormone in your system to prevent several health issues that can occur when it is too high. Reducing your cortisol level is not difficult. With a few lifestyle and dietary changes, you can manage stress easily.
Here are the top 10 ways to reduce your high cortisol level naturally.
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What Happens When You Have High Cortisol Levels
Constantly high cortisol levels can cause a whole host of malfunctions and dysregulation in the body. You might have heard of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal or HPA axis this team of glands controls the release of cortisol, along with a few other hormones. When the demand for cortisol remains high and the body is not able to keep up with production, the HPA axis becomes dysregulated.
From there, many symptoms can start to manifest, including:
Unless you are providing an abundance of nutrients and rest for your body while in a constant high stress lifestyle, your adrenals will burn out from constantly churning out cortisol, and then youll underproduce cortisol. This is what people refer to when they talk about adrenal fatigue.
Eat Your Way To Calm With These 15 Cortisol
If you’ve ever felt stressed , you know that takes a toll mentally and physically. This is no coincidence.
Stress triggers the production of the hormone cortisol, which can leave us in a constant state of alert or that “fight or flight” feeling. “In appropriate amounts, cortisol regulates almost every system in our body, including mood, metabolism, immune function, memory, and cognition,” says Kibby McMahon, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and co-host of the podcast A Little Help For Our Friends. “However, cortisol can have damaging effects on all these systems if levels stay elevated for long periods of time.”
Here’s what you need to know about cortisol production, including ways to keep it in check using food and nutrition.
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Are You Eating A Balanced Diet
The body tends to be the least stressed on a balanced diet that provides your body with the energy and nutrients it needs to thrive.
In most cases, this means a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates .
Keep your diet as real as you reasonably can so that youre getting plenty of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from your diet.
You also need to eat enough! An energy-deprived body is a stressed body.
Read more about this in my post about health and diet myths that are stressing your metabolism HERE.
Listen To Music And Dance
Music is actually healing and can have a calming effect on the brain.
Numerous studies show that music can relax you, especially before a stressful event, by significantly lowering stress hormones. It can also reduce the spike in cortisol during the stressful situation .
Music can be even more relaxing when combined with non-strenuous dancing.
Regular dancing has also been shown to greatly decrease cortisol levels .
The book The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living goes in more depth about the practice.
Lastly, deep breathing exercises can help you manage your stress hormone levels.
Diaphragmatic breathing consciously breathing from your diaphragm has been shown to encourage the bodys natural relaxation response and reduce cortisol .
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Remember To Seek Help And Support When You Need It
Remember, that it is okay to ask for professional help. If you feel that you are struggling to manage on your own, then you can reach out. It is important to know that you can get help as soon as possible, and that you deserve to get better.
The first person to approach is your family doctor. He or she should be able to give advice about treatment, and may refer you to another local professional. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness based approaches are known to help reduce stress. There are also a number of voluntary organisations which can help you to tackle the causes of stress and advise you about ways to get better.
Anxiety UK runs a helpline staffed by volunteers with personal experience of anxiety from 9:30-5:30, Monday to Friday. Call 08444 775 774.
Citizens Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice for a range of problems as well as providing information on your rights and responsibilities.
StepChange provides help and information for people dealing with a range of debt problems. Freephone 0800 138 1111.
Mind provides information on a range of mental health topics to support people in their own area from 9.00am to 6.00pm, Monday to Friday. Call 0300 123 3393 or email .
Rethink Advice and Information Service
Rethink provide specific solution-based guidance – 0300 5000927 Fax: 020 7820 1149 email .
Specialist mental health services
Hormonal Changes During Stress
In response to stress, the level of various hormones changes. Reactions to stress are associated with enhanced secretion of a number of hormones including glucocorticoids, catecholamines, growth hormone and prolactin, the effect of which is to increase mobilization of energy sources and adapt the individual to its new circumstance.
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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:
Enjoy Warm Epsom Salt Baths
Frequent release of adrenaline and cortisol in an unresolved stress response can be due to a low magnesium level in the body.
Magnesium plays an important role in the release and uptake of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical in the brain. Its low level can lead to an increase in stress hormones as well as cause anxiety, sleep disturbances and depression.
If a low magnesium level is the reason behind your high cortisol level, a warm Epsom salt bath is a natural way to increase your magnesium level. This salt is a good source of magnesium.
Along with Epsom salt baths, include magnesium-rich foods like dark leafy vegetables, yogurt, avocado, banana, quinoa, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds in your diet.
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Tabletop Position Helps You Reduce Stress Hormones
Get on your hands and knees. Place your wrists under your shoulders. Your knees should be under your hips. With your palms on the floor, and your fingers facing forward, your weight should be evenly distributed on the palms of your hands. Relax your head to gaze down and allow your stress to hit the floor.
What Causes A Stressed
Even though stress plays a major role in the buildup of stubborn belly fat that doesnt mean its everything. Your diet and exercise usually have the biggest impact on the size of your lower stomach fat. Then genetics is also a factor as many people have a natural pear-shaped body. Those with an apple-shaped body tend to have worse heart health .
As you age your muscle mass decreases causing your body fat to increase . Having a higher body fat will cause you to quickly store excess fat in places your genetics predisposed to . Since many people tend to gain weight as they age this will also contribute to increases in abdominal fat .
Is belly fat caused by stress?
But with that said your stress also can have a hidden role in the build-up of stomach fat. Constant stress releases the fight or flight response hormone called cortisol . Cortisol is a well-known stress hormone that your body releases when you feel threatened .
With this cortisol pumping through your body youll be better adapted to escape an emergency or fight off a threat. Now its fine if cortisol is going through your body once in a while but when its constant then it becomes a problem. Cortisol can signal for your body to start storing fat in your abdominal area even if youre skinny .
Another problem that arises from having stomach fat is it causes an increase in cortisol . Having visceral fat creates an unhealthy cycle of constant cortisol that especially affects women.
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Learn To Avoid Procrastination
Another way to take control of your stress is to stay on top of your priorities and stop procrastinating.
Procrastination can lead you to act reactively, leaving you scrambling to catch up. This can cause stress, which negatively affects your health and sleep quality .
Get in the habit of making a to-do list organized by priority. Give yourself realistic deadlines and work your way down the list.
Work on the things that need to get done today and give yourself chunks of uninterrupted time, as switching between tasks or multitasking can be stressful itself.
Prioritize what needs to get done and make time for it. Staying on top of your to-do list can help ward off procrastination-related stress.
Yoga has become a popular method of stress relief and exercise among all age groups.
While yoga styles differ, most share a common goal to join your body and mind.
Yoga primarily does this by increasing body and breath awareness.
Some studies have examined yogas effect on mental health. Overall, research has found that yoga can enhance mood and may even be as effective as antidepressant drugs at treating depression and anxiety .
However, many of these studies are limited, and there are still questions about how yoga works to achieve stress reduction.
In general, the benefit of yoga for stress and anxiety seems to be related to its effect on your nervous system and stress response.