We’ve all had those stressful weeks when even after you have gone home from work, you still feel like you just can’t fully relax. Sometimes one difficult week can turn into two, three, or even more. Whether it’s the heavy workload, a stressful office atmosphere, or you just don’t have the time to see your family, stress can get to you, and it can raise your cortisol levels. Some cortisol is good for dealing with though situations, but when your levels have been high for a longer period of time that can lead to issues. Those can be sudden weight gain or loss, high blood pressure, insomnia, low energy levels, etc. Surely, this is no way to live if you want to feel happy and relaxed. Can we do something about it? Keep on reading and let’s look at 7 life-changing steps on how to reduce cortisol levels.
Table of Contents
- 1. Get 7-8 hours of sleep to reduce cortisol
- 2. Switch to green tea instead of coffee
- 3. Reduce cortisol with a whole-food, plant-based diet
- What foods reduce cortisol levels?
- 4. Add supplements to your daily vitamin intake
- 5. Battle high cortisol by taking deep breaths
- 6. Exercise regularly for at least 30 min
- 7. Spend time outdoors to lower cortisol
1. Get 7-8 hours of sleep to reduce cortisol
It’s not a secret that getting enough quality time sleep is key for feeling good and well-rested. Our bodies need enough time to heal and prepare for the next day ahead. When we suffer from insomnia, which can be a product of stress, this can increase our cortisol levels. High cortisol affects our energy and hormones. We need to get 7-8 hours of sleep, so we can battle daily stress easier. For people who work on shifts, it is best to take naps whenever they can to prevent sleep deficit.
2. Switch to green tea instead of coffee
When we don’t get enough sleep, we tend to drink more coffee, and when the caffeine wears off we feel much more tired than before. It is a never ending cycle, really. I started to replace my second cup of coffee for the day a few years back. To be honest, I now feel much more refreshed and energized than I used to when I drank only coffee. You don’t need to stop taking caffeine altogether, but try to reduce your intake by switching to green tea, which has a calming effect.
3. Reduce cortisol with a whole-food, plant-based diet
One of the most important points on how to reduce cortisol is to focus on a whole-food, plant-based diet. It is good for all types of food to be consumed in moderation, but we should be mindful of what we eat and how it can affect our hormones. An unhealthy diet, featuring high sugar foods, or processed food such as microwave meals can raise your cortisol levels, give you high blood pressure and be harmful to you altogether. Getting enough fibre can be key in regulating your hormones, hence helping you reduce cortisol.
What foods reduce cortisol levels?
- dark chocolate
- legumes and lentils
- Greek yogurt
- whole grains
4. Add supplements to your daily vitamin intake
Certain supplements can be a great aid when battling high cortisol levels. Of course, before starting to take any, always first consult with your doctor on what would be best for you. Currently, I am thinking about taking magnesium, since I have heard that it regulates cortisol. I also want to take it to reduce cramps, since I experience them a lot, but first I am thinking of speaking to my doctor before doing so. Also for cortisol, vitamin C, B12 and fish oil are known to help with balancing its levels.
5. Battle high cortisol by taking deep breaths
If you are looking for more ways on how to reduce cortisol, you can also try doing some breathing exercises. Taking deep breaths is a simple solution to limiting stress, hence also limiting cortisol production. At least 5 minutes a day every day can do wonders for you and help you feel more at ease. Engage in practises such as meditation, yoga, Pilates, or tai chi where you can easily practice deep-breathing on a daily basis. If you want to start easy, try a mindfulness meditation app like Headspace, which is what I have been using for the past years and it works great for me.
6. Exercise regularly for at least 30 min
Getting enough exercise at the right intensity is of great importance when trying to lower your cortisol. Regular exercise for about 30 to 50 minutes a day can help you battle stress and give you a healthier lifestyle. Exercise intensity is also key, as a simple walk in the park doesn’t really count. You can try quick high-intensity workouts at home, or outdoors. I personally love to dance, and I have found great videos on YouTube with high-intensity dance routines, which offer me a great workout plus lighten up my mood whenever I do them.
7. Spend time outdoors to lower cortisol
Nothing can make you feel more refreshed and energized than taking a walk through a place of rich greenery, where you can smell the odour of the wild flowers and pine trees. Spending time in nature can have a calming effect on anyone of us. Even when it’s cold, a simple walk around your block or a quick visit to the nearby park can help you with lowing your cortisol. Doing this with a close friend or partner will make your walk even more enjoyable, so be sure to bring them along.
Life can be stressful, so remember to always be mindful and take care of your body and mind. High cortisol levels can lead to many health issues, so be sure to apply at least half of these steps to your personal lifestyle and see how satisfied you will be with the results. Be healthy, be safe!