When you feel stressed out, you might put all the blame on cortisol, often called the stress hormone. High cortisol actually puts your body in a state of alertness, so you may feel “on edge” or tense. Racing heartbeat, shaking, sweating and light-headedness are just some of its symptoms. According a 2022 study published in the US National Library of Medicine, high cortisol level for a long time can lead to health issues such as diabetes, weight gain, high blood pressure and heart disease apart from mood swings. To avoid this, learn how to reduce cortisol level naturally.
What is cortisol?
Cortisol is a hormone that your adrenal glands, the endocrine glands on top of your kidneys, produce and release, says Dr Ruchi Jain, Consultant- Psychologist, Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre, Mumbai. It is a hormone that regulates a wide range of processes throughout the body, including metabolism
and the immune response. So, when cortisol remains high for a long time, it may reduce the body’s immune response.
Cushing syndrome is a hormonal disorder that is caused by high levels of cortisol in the body. You may experience:
• Quick weight gain mostly in the face, abdomen and chest
• Round and flushed face
• High blood pressure
• Skin changes like bruises and stretch marks in purple colour
• Muscle weakness
• Mood swings
How to reduce cortisol level naturally?
In most cases, the brain and adrenal glands can regulate cortisol on their own, when stress goes away, the expert tells Health Shots. People with chronic stress can try natural ways to reduce cortisol:
1. Reduce stress
Stress is a major trigger for cortisol production, so lowering stress can also reduce cortisol. Dr Jain suggests to practice ‘Locus Of Control’, which means to stop bothering about things which are not in our control.
2. Relaxation techniques
People experiencing stress should practice relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, yoga and walking in open spaces. All this will help to activate the relaxation response instead of the stress response.
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3. Eat a balanced diet
Eating a balanced diet, paying particular attention to your sugar and caffeine intake can help to reduce cortisol level. Drinking plenty of water also helps in lowering cortisol levels. Try some foods to reduce cortisol levels. These include garlic, vitamin C-rich foods, black or green tea and probiotic foods.
4. Get enough sleep
Lack of sound sleep can affect levels of cortisol in the bloodstream. Follow a good bedtime routine to get longer and better quality sleep. So, turn off your gadgets and stay away from screens an hour before going to bed.
5. Take up a hobby
Hobbies can be both relaxing and rewarding, as they take mind off stress. They give something to look forward to. You can take up stress-relieving hobbies such as drawing or painting, cooking, creative writing or playing a musical instrument.
6. Have fun
If you are having a good time, you will not think much about stress. So, taking out time to have fun may lower cortisol levels. Laughter also has great therapeutic benefits, says the expert.
Being physically active is good for overall health and it can also improve your mood. So, do low or moderate impact exercises to help in controlling cortisol levels.
8. Build good relationships
Stable and loving relationships with your partner, friends and family can be a good support system when it comes to leading a happy and fulfilled life and reducing considerable amount of stress.
You should also prioritise yourself and focus on self-care to reduce cortisol levels and achieve overall good health.