You’ve probably heard the term “cortisol” before. It’s usually used in reference to stress and body fat.
But what is cortisol?
Cortisol is actually good! It helps us regulate our stress response, which is something that, evolutionarily speaking, has been critical for our survival.
Ages ago, cortisol used to be released when we were in a stressful situation, which usually meant being chased by a predator. These days, cortisol can be triggered by any number of everyday events - near misses on the highway, an argument in your relationship, or a tight deadline at work.
When we’re constantly stressed out about things and living in overdrive, our bodies start signaling long-term stress. This results in a steady release of cortisol over time. Our bodies aren’t designed to exist like this in the long-term, so eventually it gets exhausted, gives up, and stops producing all that cortisol. This is what we erroneously refer to as “adrenal fatigue”.
It also can lead to issues of sex drive, menstrual irregularities, estrogen dominance, and even fertility issues. Clearly we need to get these hormones back in balance!
Here are four tips to reduce cortisol levels:
Reduce stress. If the cause of too much cortisol is stress, the obvious solution is to reduce stress. Take deep breaths when something or someone raises your stress levels. Make a list of your priorities. Don't get too overwhelmed and feel like everything needs to be accomplished all in one day. Make time for what is important.
Self-care. Taking time for yourself is not selfish - it’s essential to healthy living in the 21st century. Taking a break from electronics and work to focus on what brings you joy can make a world of difference.
Eat a nutrient-dense diet. Food changes everything - including balancing hormones. Eating a nutrient-dense diet that’s free of chemicals and preservatives will work wonders.
Engage in healthy outlets. Channeling your energy into yoga, tai chi, meditation, or exercise can be extremely beneficial in helping to lower cortisol.