How to Reduce Cortisol So You Can Lower Your Stress
Image by Joanna Herrstedt
Stress is a permanently hot topic in the wellness world, and rightfully so. 2020 research states that approximately 75% of Americans experience stress to the extent that it causes both physical and mental side effects. Knowing that stress is a chronic epidemic that won't disappear overnight, how do we manage it? This article is dedicated to tips and tricks that can help us manage cortisol levels on a day-to-day basis, reducing stress levels naturally for a happier, healthier life.
75% of Americans experience stress to the extent that it causes both physical and mental side effects.
Getting Familiar with Cortisol
Cortisol is often called the 'stress hormone', is a naturally occurring hormone produced by your adrenal glands, conveniently released when you're under physical or mental stress. It triggers our flight-or-fight response in these situations. While this sounds entirely negative, cortisol is necessary for other bodily functions. Like all hormones, it's all about balance! When it comes to cortisol, problems arise when levels are high for prolonged periods. High cortisol levels wreak havoc on the brain, increasing inflammation, destroying brain cells, and interfering with cognitive function. When levels remain elevated for days, weeks, or even months, we experience increased activity in the amygdala, leading to anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. Physical manifestations of stress can include weight gain or loss, skin issues, insomnia, digestive issues, and many others.
High cortisol levels wreak havoc on the brain, increasing inflammation, destroying brain cells, and interfering with cognitive function
Managing Cortisol Levels
Learning about cortisol is wild, and ironically, it can feel stressful just getting educated on the subject. But where there is a problem, there is a solution! And that's why we're here writing. It might sound crazy, but managing your cortisol levels is like nourishing your body, mind, and spirit from every angle possible. Like spending time with animals? Yep, that's on the list.
Here's a list of things you can do to reduce cortisol:
1. Eat chocolate. We told you this was going to be fun. Chocolate is high in antioxidants and polyphenols known to reduce stress and cortisol. Feel relaxed after a bite? That's the chemicals doing their job!
2. Laugh! Your goofy friends, that funny show, the book that brings out the belly laughs, these things are GREAT for your health. Laughter can reduce cortisol levels by 50%.
Laughter can reduce cortisol levels by 50%.
3. Know your triggers. Taking time to get familiar with what causes stress can lead to lower stress levels in the long run. When stress occurs, journal about what happened and how it made you feel. This activity will make you more equipped to identify triggers before they overtake you.
4. Lean on cortisol-reducing nutrients & herbs. Numerous vitamins, minerals, and adaptogenic plants are known for their stress-reducing properties. Omega 3 fatty acids reduce stress by supporting brain and nervous system health. Zinc and magnesium actively work to reduce cortisol levels. Our Good Day formula features a complete ingredient list of stress-supporting plants such as adaptogenic Rhodiola, Schisandra, CBD, CBDa, and many more.
5. Consume enough food and water. When we are underfed or dehydrated, things quickly go awry. The protein and essential nutrients we consume keep stress levels low and hormones balanced. Healthy fats and plenty of water keep things flowing smoothly in the brain while supporting gut health.
6. Prioritize antioxidants! Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress in our bodies. Fruits and veggies contain high levels of balancing vitamins, keeping our immune system strong and stress levels low.
7. Reduce caffeine intake. It's all about moderation here. Caffeine can really do a number on your stress, causing a natural spike in cortisol levels when consumed. Check out our Good Day formula if you're looking to keep energy levels up without the jitters or wild side effects. If caffeine is a must for you, look to green tea (especially matcha!) for a gentler effect plus a good boost of antioxidants.
Image by: @kinga.baran
8. Forest bathing. This might be our favorite cortisol-reducing activity. Talking a walk through nature helps us realign with our most natural being. Time slows, we have more space for deep breathing, and our eyes can relax. Forest bathing is a great solution when you need immediate relief from stress, quickly reducing cortisol levels and releasing 'happy' chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. Scheduling weekly visits to nature will allow for a regular defrag - do it and brag about how good you feel later!
9. Get that deep sleep. When stress levels go up, rest seems to be the first thing to go out the window. Blackout curtains, linen sheets, herbs, meditation, or minerals, whatever you need to do to promote great sleep, do it! Investing in great sleep might include some pre-bedtime prep, but it will always be worth it because sleep is the foundation of well-being. We formulated Good Night for that exact reason, containing 11 sleep-supporting ingredients to whisk you away gently into a night of restorative rest. Zero AM drowsiness and 100% sustainable and organic ingredients from nature.
The above list is just a fraction of the activities and habits that can help us naturally manage cortisol levels. Nutrition and medicinal plants are a great place to start when setting the foundation for a low-stress lifestyle.