10 Proven Methods to Lower Cortisol

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Meditation lowers cortisol

Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It’s essential for your health, but too much cortisol can cause problems, ranging from anxiety to diabetes. Since cortisol is an important aspect of different systems including nervous, cardiovascular, immune and more, the levels can create a lot of change within the body. From regulating stress, metabolism, and blood sugar, your cortisol levels are important to keep in check to make sure this hormone isn’t out of balance causing extra stress on you. Check out these scientifically proven methods of lowering cortisol levels:

  • Meditate: Everyone knows that meditation is a great way to relieve yourself of any stress. By keeping your mind on the present, you aren’t allowing yourself to introduce any stressors to yourself. A study conducted in 2013 found that mindfulness meditation decreased levels of cortisol whereas low amounts of mindfulness caused an increase in cortisol levels.
  • Eat a Balanced Diet: When eating unhealthy foods, we are disrupting our healthy bodily functions. In terms of cortisol, it has been found that eating low-quality food increases levels of cortisol in one’s body. Luckily, there are foods to combat the rising levels of cortisol. Foods such as bananas, beans, and chickpeas reduce cortisol and decrease stress levels.
  • Drink Tea: Drinking tea is a tasty natural remedy to make sure your cortisol levels aren’t being increased. Specifically, black tea has been found to decrease stress by lowering cortisol levels. A study found that those who consumed black tea over 6 weeks had lowered cortisol levels and increased relaxation than those who took a placebo.
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  • Limit alcohol: Studies have found that increased consumption of alcohol has raised levels of cortisol. Since high levels of cortisol induce negative moods and stress, drinking alcohol only worsens the symptoms. As a depressant, limiting your intake of alcohol can set your cortisol levels back to normal and get rid of any unnecessary stress.
  • Stay hydrated: Not drinking enough water throughout the day can cause many detrimental effects on your body, including raising cortisol levels. If your body is dehydrated, your body releases stressors, increasing levels of cortisol. In fact, a study was done in 2018 that found soccer players who were mildly dehydrated had an increase in cortisol levels. So, to keep your levels of cortisol at a normal level, make sure you are keeping hydrated at all times.
  • Sleep more: If you aren’t getting enough sleep at night, your cortisol levels can become raised. Right when we wake up, our cortisol levels are high, and when we fall asleep, the levels become lower. Since cortisol works with the circadian rhythm, getting at least 7 hours of sleep at night can help keep cortisol levels in check.
  • Consider the Adaptogen Ashwagandha: There are many health benefits to our favorite adaptogens. Ashwagandha, however, specifically helps with cortisol. One randomized controlled trial in 60 adults showed a significant reduction in cortisol levels after taking 240 mg of ashwagandha extract for 60 days, while the control group showed no significant changes.
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  • Exercise Regularly but Take Time to Recover: While exercising is important for overall health, it is important to not over-do it. Yes, you read that right! Over-exercising is a thing. A study done in 2012 found that athletes who participated in high-endurance routines increased levels of cortisol. In order to keep your cortisol levels normal, allow yourself to make your exercise routine less extreme.
  • Do Some Yoga: Similar to meditation, yoga is another great natural method to keep cortisol levels normal. A study done in 2017 found that those who participated in yoga and meditation increased their mindfulness which in turn decreased their cortisol levels. Their depression and anxiety levels were significantly decreased as well!
  • Get a Pet: Our four-legged friends can help reduce our stress (and cortisol) levels! We previously wrote about the health benefits of owning a dog, a cat, and a horse– and here’s another reason if you needed it! A study tested the cortisol-reducing effect of canine companionship in pet owners compared with those who were not pet owners. The latter group with dogs experienced a greater drop in cortisol when they were given canine companions, likely because pet owners had already benefited from the friendship of their animals at the beginning of the study. Due to the well-known stress-reducing benefits of pets, many long-term care homes and university/college campuses have introduced pet therapy as a natural cortisol- and stress-reducing activity.

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