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 it is that is causing the stress and fear. However, chronically high levels of cortisol 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 extremely important. When you sleep well and for long enough, which is 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 next morning. When you don’t get enough sleep, or the sleep you do get is disrupted and not deep enough, you will find that you feel sluggish and fatigued the next day, which causes your cortisol levels to rise.
It is even worse if you have insomnia. Insomnia can be caused by many different problems including health worries and financial issues. If it’s financial worries, Bonsai Finance can help with it. If you struggle to fall asleep one night, it can cause your cortisol levels to remain high for as much as 24 hours, even if you do get a good night’s sleep the following night.
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 exercise in the daytime, by the time you want to go to bed, your cortisol levels will have reduced again, 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. However, 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, otherwise, again, there is nothing to worry about. Living in the moment is not something humans are programmed to do, but when you are able to, it increases positivity in your life hugely.
Relaxation methods such as meditation and yoga are good ways to get started, but recognizing stressful situations and understanding how to put your thoughts back into a positive mindset is just as important—perhaps more so! Replacing the anxiety and worry with understanding and acknowledgment is a good start. This way, you can look more objectively at your stressful thoughts and not be so much of a victim to them.
The more we relax, the less cortisol is in our bodies. As with mindfulness, relaxation can take some getting used to, especially when our lives are so busy, but it is essential to living as well as possible without too much stress. There are a number of excellent relaxation exercises that you can do throughout the day. They don’t take a lot of time, but they have been proven to reduce cortisol levels. One such exercise is deep breathing, and another is massage therapy. Yoga and Tai Chi are popular relaxation classes to attend as well, and if you are at home and need to relax a little more, putting on some soothing music, lying down, and closing your eyes can have a truly positive effect. Doing this for just 30 minutes can half the cortisol in your body.
When you are having fun, your cortisol levels automatically reduce, so enjoying yourself as much of the time as you can, and it won’t always be possible, of course. Not only will this reduce the cortisol in your body, but it will also lower your blood pressure, improve your immune system, and keep your heart rate at a more healthy level. Laughing has an instant effect on cortisol, so even just doing this each day will help you.
Hobbies are a great way of enjoying yourself and keeping yourself healthy, even if the hobby itself is an inactive one such as painting or writing. Hobbies are also good for your brain and keep it stimulated for longer. It can improve longevity and cognitive function, particularly when you grow older.
Get A Pet
Having a pet in your home has also been shown to reduce cortisol levels. Dogs are particularly good for this reason, especially as they need walking daily so will give you the exercise you need to reduce levels even more. However, any pet will give you the happiness and focus needed to stop worrying about other things, at least for a while, and this, of course, means that your cortisol levels are reduced.
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