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Cortisol is a primary stress hormone of the body that is produced by the adrenal glands. It plays a vital role in lots of bodily functions, including managing blood sugar levels. The cortisol level in the blood is often higher in the morning and steadily reduces throughout the day. Besides, cortisol plays an important role in reducing inflammation, curbing blood pressure, regulating sleep-wake cycles of the body, and managing how the body uses fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. However, when the levels of cortisol are high for a long time, this hormone may hurt you. High levels of cortisol may result in high blood pressure and weight gain, disrupt sleep, reduce your energy levels, negatively impact mood, and contribute to diabetes. Therefore,
It is crucial to control the stress hormone level in your system to inhibit several health problems that can happen when it’s too high. Decreasing the level of cortisol is not difficult. You can control stress easily with a few dietary and lifestyle changes. In this article, you will know the best ways on how to reduce your high cortisol level naturally. Scroll down!
Top 13 Ways On How To Reduce Your High Cortisol Level Naturally
1. Enjoy A Warm Epsom Salt Bath
Magnesium plays a vital role in release and uptake of a mood-elevating chemical, serotonin in the brain. A low magnesium level can cause an increase in stress hormones and result in sleep disorders, depression and anxiety. Taking a warm Epsom salt bath is a simple and natural method to raise your magnesium level if a low level of magnesium is the reason for your high cortisol level. Epsom salt is rich in magnesium. For this purpose, you take one cup of Epsom salt and add it to warm bathwater. Soak in this solution for twenty minutes. To have a stress-free life, take this bath once or twice per week. Along with this bath, include foods rich in magnesium such as dark leafy vegetables, avocado, yogurt, banana, quinoa, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds in your diet.
2. Listen To Relaxing Music
Listening to soothing and soft music will help to lower your stress hormone levels during stressful times. Music acts as a natural stress buster, which aids you in calming down fast. Music is even helpful for decreasing stress in patients before surgeries or operations. According to a 2011 study, during surgery under regional anesthesia, listening to music may have effects on cortisol levels and decrease sedative requirements to attain light sedation . A recent study in 2016 shows that taking part in a cultural event may have an effect on endocrine activity and reduce cortisol levels . Besides, you can play a musical instrument to fight against stress in your life if you’re skilled at playing it.
3. Practice Deep Breathing
Practice deep breathing can help control your stress hormones. It is excellent for helping your body relax and decreasing anxiety. More oxygen will reach your brain once you breathe deeply. As a result, this will help your brain calm down and relax. According to a study in 2007 published in Stress and Coherence, an individual can quickly reduce stress by practicing deep breathing and positive imagery . Another study points out that controlled breathing therapy can help to lower the level of cortisol in the body. How to practice deep breathing at home? Follow these below steps:
- You sit in a comfortable position, put the hands on the abdomen and relax the muscles.
- Take a deep breath via your nose and expand your abdomen.
- Gradually fill the lungs with air and then count to five.
- Keep your breath and count to three.
- Exhale gradually through the mouth, emptying the lungs totally and count slowly to five.
- Release your muscle tension and repeat these steps for around 8 to 10 minutes.
- Try deep breathing for ten minutes, twice or thrice times every day.
4. Have A Cup Of Warm Tea
You can easily control your stress by taking a cup of tea. Both green tea and black tea consist of stress-reducing properties. Black tea is rich in theanine which is helpful for reducing elevated stress hormones. It is excellent for encouraging relaxation and mental alertness by triggering the production of alpha brain waves. As per a recent study published in Psychopharmacology in 2007, consuming black tea in six weeks may lead to lower post-stress cortisol and reduced platelet activation . Besides, green tea is beneficial for reducing stress. It exhibits powerful antioxidants that have a relaxing and calming effect on your mind and body. A 2009 study noted that consuming several cups of green tea every day is related to lower psychological distress . In addition to green tea and black tea, herbal tea such as rosemary and chamomile tea also aid in keeping you calm and relaxed. Therefore, enjoy a cup of warm tea whenever you get stressed.
5. Schedule A Massage
During stressful situations, massage is an ideal way to help you calm down and promote sleep. According to a 2005 study, massage therapy can help decrease cortisol levels and increase dopamine and serotonin levels in the body . Serotonin regulates your mood while dopamine is a hormone related to happiness. Another study  indicates that touch massage helps to reduce the stress response of the body. Thus, when you’re under stress, ask somebody to give you a full-body massage or foot massage.
6. Perform Stress-Busting Exercises
Most forms of exercise can function as a stress reliever. More importantly, it helps to enhance feel-good endorphins in your brain and battle stress and anxiety. It works as an effective way to lower the excess cortisol production. Besides, regular exercise is effective for increasing your self-confidence and distracting you from factors causing the stress. Weight training helps to increase the human growth hormone levels while aerobic exercise produces endorphins. Both help to control cortisol levels. Along with that, lifting weights are useful for increasing the release of dopamine and serotonin. According to a 2008 study, low-intensity exercises can help decrease circulating cortisol levels . Therefore, you can try any form of exercise from walking to aerobics or yoga because they all serve as a stress reliever.
7. Laugh Like A Child
As you know, laughter is known to make everyone happier. But do you know that it can help keep stress hormones under control and lower serum level of cortisol? Besides, it even helps to decrease two other stress hormones – dopac and adrenaline. In addition to this, a good laugh can assist in lightening your load mentally and protecting you from stress triggers. Thus, during stress, you forget everything and begin to watch a funny video or movie.
8. Eat A Balanced Diet
Your diet plays a crucial role in managing stress hormones like cortisol. It’s best to follow a diet rich in good fats, complex carbohydrates, and protein to keep the level of cortisol low.
- Add high-quality fish oil such as krill oil, liver oil or skate liver oil to your diet.
- Eat folic acid rich foods to curb the functions and actions of the adrenal glands, which release cortisol.
- Add B vitamins, especially vitamin B5, to your diet to lower the excess cortisol production. Vitamin B5 is abundant in cheese, mushrooms, corn, broccoli, avocados, kale, and sweet potatoes.
- Consume vitamin C rich foods, which naturally reduce cortisol levels.
- When cooking, include herbs such as astragalus or holy basil to help reduce your cortisol level.
- Eat high-quality proteins and add whole-grain products to your diet to help proteins curb the cortisol production of the body.
- Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugar to control your blood sugar level, as high blood sugar is associated with higher stress hormones.
9. Take Certain Supplements
Some studies have proven that fish oil and ashwagandha supplements can reduce cortisol levels.
Ashwagandha is used in traditional medicine to deal with anxiety and help control stress. According to a study, taking about 125 mg of ashwagandha one or two times every day reduced cortisol levels .
b. Fish Oil
It’s a powerhouse of omega-3 fatty acids that are thought to decrease cortisol. A 2003 study showed that fish oil reduced the level of cortisol in response to stress .
10. Take Up Gardening
Gardening is a great way to combat elevated stress hormones. It is helpful for calming your mind and distracting you from thinking about stressful problems. It is also an ideal exercise which will help reduce cortisol levels. According to a study in 2011 published in the Journal of Health Psychology, half an hour of outdoor gardening can be beneficial for decreasing cortisol levels . So, take up gardening when you are under stress.
11. Use Adaptogen Herbs
Adaptogen herbs help lower high cortisol levels naturally. They contain strong antiviral, antioxidant, and antibacterial effects, which help reduce inflammation. They also lower fatigue and balance blood sugar and blood pressure levels thanks to their natural anti-depressant effects. Lots of adaptogens such as cocoa and reishi mushrooms can help enhance better overall health. There are at least sixteen different proven adaptogenic herbs, which can help decrease cortisol, such as ashwagandha, licorice root holy basil, astragalus, Rhodiola, and medicinal mushrooms.
12. Take Care Of Pets
Having a pet can help to soothe stress and reduce cortisol production. Plus, pets can decrease fear and anxiety levels to promote a feeling of calmness. Along with that, they can help decrease blood pressure and heart rate effectively. According to a study in 2012 published in Frontiers in Psychology, human-animal interactions can lead to the activation of the oxytocin system, thus helping decrease stress . Spend time with your beloved pet once stress comes your way.
13. Use Essential Oils
a. Orange Oil
A 2013 study showed that aromatherapy with orange oil could help to soothe symptoms of anxiety and stress by reducing cortisol levels . All you need to do is preparing five drops of orange oil and adding it to a diffuser. Fill the diffuser with enough water and switch it on. Inhale its pleasant fragrance and repeat twice daily.
b. Lavender Oil
According to a study published in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, inhaling lavender aroma has a positive effect on blood cortisol level and anxiety among the patients . You take around six drops of lavender oil and add it to a diffuser. Use enough water to fill the diffuser and switch on this diffuser. Inhale the pleasant aroma and redo it one to two times every day.
High cortisol levels can increase your chance of developing chronic conditions. Hence, it is important to get the level of cortisol back to normal before it’s too late. Do you have any more questions on how to reduce your high cortisol level? Ask us in the comments section below. All of the contents provided in this article are for informational and educational purposes. We recommend you consult a healthcare professional to determine which method is appropriate for you.
- When a person is stressed, the adrenal glands release the steroid hormone cortisol Reviewed by Daniel Murrell, MD [Link]
- What Happens When Cortisol Is High? Written by Matthew Thorpe, MD, PhD [Link]