Cortisol Is Another Word for 'Stress'. Here Are Some Natural, Easy and Affordable Ways to Manage It.
When you’re running late to work. When your kids are driving you up the wall. Even when you’re exercising, there is something in your body that is going up a few notches, whether you realize it or not. It’s your cortisol levels!
Another term for cortisol is “stress hormone”. Initially, that might sound like a bad thing, but like basically everything in life, it’s all about balance.
When your stress levels are out of sync, it can lead to anxiety, insomnia, acne, weight gain, a low libido—even high blood pressure (which is definitely not good). At the same time, there’s no way that any of us could live functional lives without some level of stress because that’s also what keeps us motivated, alert and productive throughout the day.
The key is knowing what will help you to keep your own cortisol at a manageable level.
Here are just a few natural, easy and sustainable ways to do just that.
Breathing and Meditation. When you wake up in the morning, before doing anything else, try deep breathing for about five minutes, trying only to let your mind focus on your breath. It will soothe your nervous system and make you feel calm and centered. Breathe in deeply through your nose, hold for a count of five and then release the air slowly through your mouth. You can do this periodically throughout the day to center yourself as well.
Altering your diet may be all that you need to do to keep your cortisol levels where they need to be. If you know that you drink a lot of caffeinated or sugary drinks, that will definitely cause your cortisol levels to spike. So will not getting enough protein in your system. A lack of protein leads to hunger cravings which eventually lead to high blood sugar and weight gain. There are also foods you can eat that literally lower the stress in your system. Some of them include dark leafy greens (the folate in them stabilizes your moods); turkey and pumpkin seeds (they both contain tryptophan that helps you to relax); blueberries (they have dopamine in them); dark chocolate (it contains the neurotransmitter anandamide which reduces feelings of sadness and depression) and avocados (a superfood that reduces blood sugar levels).
If you simply can’t get all of these foods into your diet every day, a supplement such as ZEN will give you the same benefits! ZEN provides a convenient solution to getting these specific feel good ingredients plus many more.
An ultimate remedy for stress is exercise so make sure that you get no less than 30-45 hours of cardio and strength-training, three times a week. If you’d prefer something a little less low-impact, try yoga or even water aerobics. Your body will still get some movement, but these approaches are easier on the body and also naturally calming. If you exercise outside, that’s a bonus. The Vitamin D, bright atmosphere, fresh air and trees will all play a role in taking your cortisol-management to another level! (Reward yourself with a massage a couple of times a month too. It reduces pain, inflammation and yes, stress.)
It doesn’t have to only be writing (although research does support that journaling does wonders for releasing stress). Just make sure that you set aside some time each week to do something creative. Maybe it’s painting, playing and instrument or doing a little arts and crafts. These kinds of activities will release endorphins, and that will automatically put your mind at ease and make you feel good.
Bet you were glad to hear this! Kissing, cuddling and yes, sex are all things that produce the “love hormone” known as oxytocin. It helps you to bond with your partner while feeling comforted and safe. The more secure you feel, the less stress you’ll have. (Sex is also a great form of exercise and a good precursor to a good night’s sleep.)
If you’re sleep-deprived (which is technically getting less than six hours of z-z-z’s on a consistent basis), you can be certain that your cortisol levels will be off. A lack of sleep leads to poor concentration, less productivity, weight gain, physical discomfort and a load of other issues. Make getting 6-8 hours a night a top priority. Diffusing some lavender oil and reading before falling asleep can help to relax you so that you’ll sleep more soundly. Try laying on an Ajnamat for 15 minutes to help induce sleep. Ajnamat will relieve muscle tension, and help your body to release the calming hormone serotonin.
Remember, cortisol isn’t a bad thing. Mismanaged cortisol is.
Life is too short to be stressed out all of the time.
Balance it all out. Your mind, body and spirit deserve it!
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