Most of us know this to be the fight or flight stress chemical that floods our bodies when we are faced with danger, real or perceived, and it can cause a wide-range of alarming issues from belly fat and inflammation to fertility issues and cardiovascular disease. Lowering stress levels is the best way to keep it under control, but unfortunately, the way many of us do this can increase the amount of it in our system. That extra cup of coffee in the morning (which is when our levels are the highest) or evening cocktails both increase secretion of the hormone. That sugary fix with the trans fats? You guessed it. Staying out late to “let loose” often leads to less sleep which will also work against you.
Today, I want to share a few ways to lower your stress levels and get the hormone under control.
1. Drink your coffee after 10:00AM. Studies have shown that the early AM is the worst time to have coffee as you wake up with the highest levels of cortisol in your system. Try having a glass of warm water with lemon first thing to fend off dehydration and flush your system, or if you really need the boost, move to black tea which lowers the hormone.
2. Meditate. Taking 10-20 minutes to breathe is one of the best things you can do for yourself in terms of lowering stress (and blood pressure), reducing anxiety and getting in tune with your body. It’s also a great way to set the tone for your day.
3. Listen to your favorite music. Music is a scientifically-proven mood enhancer and has been shown to cut cortisol levels almost in half.
4. Exercise or get a massage. Both release feel good chemicals (endorphin and serotonin, respectively).
5. Go to bed earlier. It’s not always easy, but crawling in bed 30 minutes early (without an electronic screen) can do wonders for your wind-down and help you sleep better and longer.
How high are your stress levels normally? Have you noticed any changes in your body as a result?