How to Naturally Lower Your Stress Hormone (Cortisol)
STRESS!!! Its causes are absolutely everywhere. Would you agree?
Our natural “fight or flight” stress response can sometimes go a little overboard. It’s supposed to help us escape injury or death when being chased by a moose and then return to normal after we’ve fought it with our bare hands (or ran for our freakin’ lives). But, that usually only happens when silly tourists stop to feed the wild animals on the side of the highway.
And yet we are constantly initiating our “fight or flight” response over an internet connection that’s not working, kids who won’t eat their food if it touches, or traffic that’s moving SO slowly you are going to miss you’re yoga meditation workshop! “Get moving! I am going to be late for my ZEN!” It becomes a long-term reaction. It becomes chronic.
You’ve probably heard of our “friendemy” cortisol. It’s a hormone released from your adrenal glands whenever you start stressin’. In the right amounts its actually really good for us. Cortisol is naturally high in the morning to help put some pep in yo’ step, and slowly fades during the day so you can sleep.
Unless you’ve been a bad girl like me, and have let the daily stress of work/motherhood/being a human stress your adrenals right out.
If so, you may suffer from adrenal fatigue. Your cortisol levels were so high for so long that now they don’t produce enough anymore. They do the opposite of what they are meant too. Too low in the day (hello snooze button) and gradually getting higher at night (anyone up for a 10 pm dance party?).
Too-high levels of cortisol are also associated with belly fat, poor sleep, brain fog, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and even lowers your immunity.
Do you experience any of these? Well, then read on because I have a list of foods, nutrients and lifestyle recommendations that I’ve been doing to help lower this stress hormone naturally!
FOODS AND NUTRIENTS TO LOWER CORTISOL
Let’s start with one of the biggies that increase your cortisol… sugar. Reducing the sugar we eat and drink can be a great step toward better health for our minds (and bodies). Need some motivation for this one? Grab your FREE 5 Day Sugar Free Challenge here, for a step by step guide on how to eliminate the excess.
High doses of caffeine also increase your cortisol levels. If coffee makes you feel anxious and jittery, then cut back on the amount of caffeine you ingest (don’t worry I won’t make you stop completely. That’s just madness).
Also, being dehydrated increases cortisol. Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day, especially if you feel thirsty.
Eat a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods; this doesn't just help reduce stress hormone, it helps all aspects of your health.
Lower your cortisol levels with herbal or green tea and dark chocolate (not the sugary milky kind!). Have a bit to unwind.
Don’t forget your probiotics and prebiotics! There is so much new research about the gut-mind connection, and how taking care of your friendly gut microbes is key! Make sure you’re eating probiotic rich fermented foods and getting a healthy dose of prebiotic fiber.
LIFESTYLE TECHNIQUES TO LOWER CORTISOL
It’s not just food. There are things you can do with your time that can lower cortisol.
Reduce your stress with mindfulness. Many studies show that reducing stressful thoughts and worry reduces cortisol. Easier said than done, right? When stressful thoughts start to creep up, start asking yourself if this is something outside your control. If it is, let it go – worrying about it won’t change the outcome.
Get enough exercise (but don’t overdo it). While intense exercise increases cortisol levels temporarily, it can reduce overall cortisol levels.
Get enough sleep! Getting adequate sleep is way too underrated. Sleep reduces cortisol levels and also helps improve your overall health in so many ways. The laundry can wait. Have that nap, girl. It’s for your health.
Relax and have fun. Things like deep breathing, massages, and listening to relaxing music all reduce cortisol.
Be social and bust loneliness. Would you believe me if I told you that science has shown health risks from social isolation and loneliness? It’s true! Maintaining good relationships and spending time with people you like and who support you is key.
Too much of the stress hormone cortisol can have several negative impacts on your health. There are many proven ways to reduce levels of cortisol naturally.
In terms of foods and nutrients, have less sugar and caffeine. And have more water, fruit, tea, dark chocolate, probiotics, and prebiotics.
Lifestyle factors are huge when it comes to cortisol. To lower yours, exercise (but not too much), get more sleep, relax, and have more fun.
What are your favourite ways to bust the stress hormone cortisol? Pop your comment on the Facebook group here! I am always looking for more tips, maybe I’ll even highlight yours in a future blog!
De-Stressing Chocolate Pudding
3 ripe avocados
¼ cup cacao powder (unsweetened)
¼ cup maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 dash salt
Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.
This delicious treats are high in fiber and loaded with prebiotics.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Try adding a pinch of cinnamon for a deeper flavour.