8 Ways On How To Lower Cortisol: Complete Guide 2023
Adrenal glands release cortisol, a hormone that contributes to the fight-or-flight response. Of course, this response helps us to deal with tricky or complex situations in life.
But, as we know, too much of anything is bad for us. Too much cortisol caused by prolonged stress damages almost every process of the body.
But then again, certain situations in life, like dealing with slow internet while meeting a deadline, can spike your cortisol. Our life is scattered with factors that can raise cortisol levels.
This necessitates knowing ways how to lower cortisol levels and relieve stress. Read and explore ways to reduce cortisol that we consider sustainable for your physical and mental health.
Table of Contents
How To Lower Cortisol: What is Cortisol?
Cortisol, a glucocorticoid hormone, is produced and released by adrenal glands. More precisely, the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPA) takes part in cortisol secretion and formation. The HPA axis represents a network including the interacted functions of the hypothalamus, adrenal glands, and pituitary gland.
Moreover, our body regularly maintains the level of the mentioned steroid hormone. Neither high cortisol levels nor low levels are desirable and good for us.
The Function of Cortisol
Despite the association of cortisol with stress, the hormone responds to activities like waking up from sleep and exercising. Cortisol plays a role in many processes, the effectiveness of which influences overall health.
The mentioned hormone plays a major role in metabolism. It influences the liver’s production and management of blood glucose.
Moreover, cortisol helps in the conversion of proteins, fats, and carbs into energy. Thus, the hormone can be linked to energy levels, weight gain, and mood.
However, cortisol is well-known for its involvement in stress responses and chronic stress. The increased cortisol level during stress prepares the body by boosting the glucose supply. And thus, muscles get energy during stressed periods.
Importantly, cortisol blunts the functions of insulin for elevating the release of stored glucose. Also, the hormone causes the narrowing of arteries.
The coupled actions of cortisol and epinephrine on the cardiovascular system help to acknowledge the stressful moment. And thus, the hormones help to generate a sense of alertness or hyper-awareness.
After the cause of perceived stress gets resolved, cortisol levels return to normal. And so does the affected body functions.
Why is Cortisol Labeled as the Primary Stress Hormone?
There are several hormones related to responses to stress. These include adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol.
But, cortisol is widely considered the main stress hormone even when it takes more time to cause stress-induced changes. So, why give it the limelight among other stress hormones?
The impacts of cortisol on blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle network are more pronounced. And hence the hormone preps us heavily to stay in a state of high focus and awareness during danger or stress.
Moreover, the levels of cortisol get higher during stress. If we face stress constantly, cortisol production and secretion increase significantly.
How Do Cortisol Levels Affect the Body?
The levels of cortisol are vital for regulating overall health. The levels fluctuate throughout the day, and that is quite normal.
Moreover, the stress responses caused by high cortisol during stress or danger are very much required. But, a prolonged spike in cortisol levels exerts harmful effects on the body’s physiology.
Cortisol causes a hike in blood pressure, which is indeed required for causing heightened alertness during combating emergencies in life. But, having high blood pressure is definitely not desired chronically as caused by stress-induced high cortisol levels.
Moreover, you fall ill frequently when you are stressed and have increased cortisol. The chronic rise in cortisol levels deteriorates the immune system and makes you an easy target for diseases and infections.
Apart from its impact on immune functions, the hormone helps stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. This action suppresses the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system since both nervous systems cannot function simultaneously.
Suppressing the parasympathetic system compromises digestion, absorption, and vital metabolic functions. Moreover, experiencing high cortisol for chronic or long periods leads to muscle weakness.
Also, the hormone may cause overeating which can encourage weight gain.
Most importantly, high cortisol negatively influences the normal operations of the brain. Thus chronic stress causing elevated cortisol production damages brain health and causes impairment of cognitive abilities.
8 Ways How To Lower Cortisol
1. Improving sleep quality
Sleep quality is important for everything in life, starting from good skin to peace of mind.
Sleep deprivation may seem like a trivial issue. But, it wreaks havoc on your hormonal and stress levels.
So, it’s necessary to improve sleep quality. Moreover, a regular sleep schedule helps your body to fight insomnia, which is strongly associated with elevated cortisol levels.
Here it is important to note that focusing on sleep quality is as important as good sleep hygiene. Also, focus on having a consistent sleep schedule.
Most importantly, having regular and better sleep helps to promote good health. That brings improvement in overall health conditions. And preps you better to counteract the damages of cortisol spikes.
2. Having a Balanced and Healthy diet
Certain foods increase cholesterol. And, of course, these poorly impact heart health.
Daily stress, on top of bad heart health, is the recipe for bad stress management. So, it’s necessary to include healthy foods to prevent the intensification of stress responses.
Moreover, a healthy diet helps in weight loss which obese people with anxiety or stress may struggle with. Staying fit through diet indeed helps to reduce stress and thus decrease cortisol.
Also, include foods capable of safeguarding the body from the damaging impacts of stress and increased cortisol levels. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like Salmon, reduce the damage induced by stress. Moreover, a study showed these fatty acids reduce cortisol levels and elevate amounts of protective elements that fall during stress.
Incorporating dark chocolate into food habits may help in combating high stress and cortisol. It contains catechin and epicatechin, having neuroprotective functions. And therefore, it may protect from the damaging impacts of the stress hormone.
Apart from these foods, there is a good number of foods available that reduce oxidative stress linked with increased cortisol. Such foods include turmeric, blueberries, and almonds.
3. Eliminating caffeine intake
Coffee no doubt tastes great, and it makes you positive and focused. And thus, by doing so, the drink can reduce the risks of suicide.
But, excess coffee brings a major reduction in adenosine, which can bring a calm feeling. So, having too much coffee during stressful working hours adds fuel to the cortisol-induced damage.
High caffeine intake establishes a vicious cycle between stress and caffeine. Both caffeine and stress can increase cortisol and encourage the body to stay on high alert. And your important body functions get compromised.
Therefore, whenever you desire a strong kick of caffeine during managing work, remember it’s doing more harm than good. It’s damaging your internal systems and, in the long run, making you ineffective.
If you crave food or drinks in between work, try including some healthy snacks. That can also lower blood pressure disrupting the connection between high blood pressure and increased cortisol and stress.
4. Stress Management
Yes, work may hardly give you the time to control your life choices and health habits. But, make a point to have an easy approach in dealing with complex situations.
Living life with a calm mind sometimes is a choice. Don’t always prioritize work. And include time for your favorite hobbies. Making time for your favorite activities can naturally lower cortisol levels and so your stress.
Stress management, moreover, includes having some good relaxation techniques like meditation. Practicing meditations regularly brings down cortisol levels, as found in many analytic studies.
Moreover, meditations improve mental health bringing a positive outlook in life and a healthy self-image. Notably and importantly, these techniques can help manage chronically high cortisol levels.
Most importantly, when trying to control cortisol and stress, consider all affected areas of life. And bringing focus to every affected area introduces the concept of conventional occupational therapy.
The said therapy gives attention to elements of personal and professional lives that carry stress triggers. By providing behavioral adaptations and smart exercise techniques, the therapy brings significant stress reduction. And thus, it helps in lowering cortisol levels.
5. Regular Exercise
Getting time to exercise regularly can be a difficult deal. There are many people joining gyms and leaving memberships.
So, aim for realistic exercise goals. Like, even as a busy bee, you can get time for breathing exercises. Deep breathing exercises help to energize cells and relax muscles.
Moreover, stress causes muscle tension and discomfort. Effective breathing techniques cause progressive muscle relaxation that breaks the connection between stress-induced increased cortisol and poor muscle health.
Also, opt for cycling and swimming. Notably, if you are an adventurous person, go for activities like rock climbing. Opting for such activities will be like killing two birds with one stone- making time for exercise while doing what you like.
Moreover, physical activities help to lower cortisol levels naturally and effectively. And you also get increased endorphins by exercising.
>>Related Article: Yoga for Beginners 2022 – A Complete Guide on How to Get Started
6. Emotional Connections
Social and emotional support protects against the negative impacts of stress and increased cortisol. These connections help in releasing feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine. And as a result, the actions of elevated cortisol levels get suppressed.
Moreover, by emotional connections, we refer to friendships, married or committed relationships, and family.
Interestingly, married relationships lower cortisol levels and help in maintaining emotional balance, as proved by many studies. Also, people in committed relationships and especially in early-phase romantic relationships, have lower cortisol levels compared to single or unmarried people.
Moreover, meaningful emotional connections help safeguard the brain and other organ systems from increased cortisol levels. The positive link between healthy cortisol levels and emotional support necessitates investing time in healthy personal relationships.
So, how about making some time for the pending dinner with your parents/spouse or school friend?
Natural remedies indeed reduce cortisol. But, these techniques can supplement curing but fail to fully treat Cushing’s syndrome involving increased cortisol.
So, causes like Cushing’s syndrome require medicines when surgery or radiation fails to act. Medicines for bringing down the levels of cortisol include metyrapone, osilodrostat, and mitotane.
Antidepressants also help to reduce stress and levels of cortisol. But, these medicines have side effects on patients with comorbidity. Also, long-term use needs to be regulated.
So, consult with doctors and take care of the dosage if you are taking medicines for treating elevated cortisol.
1. Mood Booster: Calm-Z with Zembrin
This patented formula contains Sceletium Tortuosum. This ingredient is known for its traditional use for controlling stress hormones. Moreover, it improves mood and helps to reduce stress.
High cortisol levels poorly impact decision-making abilities. Keeping this impact in focus, the supplement focuses on improving thinking abilities.
As the brand claims, Zembrin helps to improve cognitive activities, which get affected by stress-induced systems. Also, the supplements help in improving processing speed, which gets hampered due to chronic stress.
The product is available in capsules and a pack of 60 servings.
2. Best Supplement To Support Healthy Stress Response: Vitapost Stress Support
The star ingredients of the Vitapost capsules are Ashwagandha and Chamomile. Apart from these two, the formula contains green tea, valerian, passionflower, and GABA.
Interestingly, Vitapost has hops, known for bringing bitterness and a signature aroma to beer. But hops do not give you the stress reduction benefits in beer it gives here.
The carefully selected and balanced ingredients in Vitapost help you in controlling stress and cortisol levels. And the formulation brings relaxed feelings. Hops present in the tablets help you to stay calm and positive.
As claimed by the brand, the supplement carries three important functions. One function includes creating a positive mood. Other two impacts of taking the capsules include helping to have a healthy stress response system and calmness.
Vitapost is available in 1 bottle and 2 and 3 bottles. The package of three bottles gives you a free pack.
Why is Vitapost our favorite, and why it can be yours too:
|Product Name||Form||Description||Price||Official Website|
Vitapost Stress Support
Easy to swallow pills
Vitapost Stress Support Supplement is the best support for your gastrointestinal, sleep, and stress problems.
|$0.49 per pill|
Vitapost provides full-fledged support to relieve stress and reduce cortisol levels. Plus, the ingredients are natural and safe.
But, yes, there is an overwhelming number of natural supplements for controlling stress and cortisol. So, what makes it our favorite?
The ingredients in Vitapost make it consider as our top choice. Many natural stress relievers are known to contain chamomile. But, along with chamomile, it uses oils from hops to relieve tension and improve mood.
Moreover, Vitapost contains amino acids like GABA, L-theanine, and 5-HTP. These generate a positive feeling and thus can help persons dealing with insomnia and anxiety.
Stress causes an increase in cortisol levels, which is required for acknowledging and managing stressful situations. But, excess stress causing cortisol rise and impaired body functions is not desired.
So, we need to have smart strategies to lower cortisol levels. And also, we need ways for stress reduction. To manage stress and cortisol, one needs to have good sleep hygiene, a better diet, and regular exercise.
Also, there are certain natural supplements that cause reduced stress and thus can reduce cortisol levels. Among others, we recommend Vitapost Stress Support to reduce cortisol and stress.
The ingredients help to calm yourself and relax. And these boost your mood. Notably, Vitapost causes effective management of stress and cortisol.
>>Related Article: How To Relieve Stress: Complete Guide 2022
How To Lower Cortisol FAQs
Are medicines suitable for chronic stress?
Some medicines are indeed helpful in managing stress response and cortisol levels. But, the use of medicines like Benzodiazepines for an extended period can build chemical dependency.
So, consult well and remain aware of the side effects. The best long-term methods of coping with high cortisol are either natural or consultative in nature.
How to ensure the good health of adrenal glands?
Ensuring good adrenal health helps to lower your cortisol levels. To do so, include plant proteins, whole grains, and veggies in the diet.
Also, avoid processed food and artificial sweeteners. Most importantly, have regular breaks even amid busy work routines.
Which medicines should you avoid if you have acute stress?
You need to avoid or reduce your intake of certain medicines if you have anxiety or are prone to constant stress. Caffeine-containing medicines for treating headaches and migraine can elevate your blood pressure. And thus, this impact can increase your stress levels.
So, reducing the use of mentioned medicines obviously lowers the chances of worsening your stress levels.
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Author: Vanessa Richards
Vanessa is a mom of 3 lovely children and a software geek. Outside of her career as a health and wellness instructor. She enjoys writing and researching on topics such as finance, software, health and culinary.