Reducing cortisol production is important for achieving good health. You can reduce your cortisol levels on a regular basis by managing your stress and living a healthy lifestyle. Avoiding caffeine, exercising regularly, and eating well-balanced meals are good strategies for lowering cortisol production. Developing supportive social networks and engaging in relaxing activities, such as meditation and enjoyable hobbies, may be helpful as well.
Your body produces cortisol in reaction to perceived stressors. When you feel angry or frustrated, receive bad news, drink too much coffee or push yourself too hard when exercising, your body produces cortisol. When you experience these emotional states and physical stressors, your body’s balance is disrupted, resulting in cortisol production. When cortisol increases to extreme levels on a prolonged basis, you expose yourself to a wide range of health issues, including weight gain, a weakened immune system and high blood pressure.
If you tend to drink many cups of caffeinated coffee each day, you can reduce cortisol production simply by lowering your coffee intake. Coffee, and all other beverages and foods containing caffeine, raise your cortisol levels. You might try consuming caffeine in lesser quantities, or eliminating it altogether from your daily diet.
Eating regularly is another way to manage cortisol levels. When you skip breakfast or go for very long hours without food, your body experiences greater stress due to the lack of nutrition and energy. To limit the production of cortisol, eat regular, well-balanced meals and avoid subjecting your body to long periods of hunger.
Emotional stress also can result in higher cortisol production. Finding ways to lower emotional stress on a regular basis is a good way to control your cortisol levels. Meditation and relaxation exercises have been known to reduce or eliminate the impact of stress on the body. Activities that involve deep breathing, imagery, and visualization can help increase your resistance against stressful events and, therefore, reduce cortisol production.
When exercising, intense and strenuous physical activity increases cortisol production. To reduce your cortisol levels during exercise, avoid pushing your body into a state of stress. Gradual building of endurance and strength will increase your fitness level without creating the unwanted and extreme production of cortisol. Yoga, Tai Chi, walking and swimming are examples of activities that help to balance cortisol levels.
Other ways to manage cortisol levels include activities that provide emotional support. Developing a solid social network to rely on in times of need is one useful strategy. When stressful situations arise, having others to turn to for problem solving and support can help reduce your stress. If no such options exist, turning to professional counselors is another effective way to manage stress and lower cortisol.