Cortisol is a normal hormone that is released by the body in times of stress. This hormone is responsible for what is commonly known as the fight or flight instinct. In patients who suffer from chronic stress, the cortisol levels can become too high, resulting in negative health effects such as heart disease, high blood sugar levels, and excess body weight. There are a few helpful tips, such as getting adequate amounts of sleep and practicing relaxation techniques, that may help to reduce cortisol levels, thus improving the patient's overall health and well-being.
Lowering cortisol levels is not always an easy task, and very often several different tips must be utilized simultaneously in order to achieve maximum results. Relaxation techniques, such as meditation, often provide significant stress reduction. Yoga is a popular choice for many because it helps to keep the body in shape while bringing peace of mind to many people.
Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine or alcohol, especially close to bedtime, is often helpful in lowering cortisol levels. In addition to increasing the body's fight or flight response, stimulants often prevent a person from getting an adequate amount of sleep. Many people also find it helpful to go to bed at the same time every night.
In addition to reducing or eliminating caffeine consumption, some other dietary changes may be considered for lowering cortisol levels. For instance, unstable blood sugar levels can have a negative impact on cortisol levels. It is important to eat a balanced diet, and foods high in sugar and carbohydrates should be consumed in moderation. Drinking plenty of water is another important tip when working on lowering cortisol levels in the blood. Dehydration is very stressful on the body, so not drinking enough water will cause dehydration and increase stress, thus raising cortisol levels.
Exercise is important in keeping the various systems of the body working at optimum levels. However, when working on lowering cortisol levels, a person should consider not working out for longer than one hour. Prolonged exercise routines tend to lower the body's testosterone levels, thus raising the levels of cortisol in the blood.
There are a variety of vitamins and herbal supplements that may help in lowering cortisol levels. Some include vitamins such as vitamin C or B complex. Calcium, chromium, and magnesium are often taken for this purpose as well. It is important to discuss any new medications, including natural supplements, with a doctor before beginning a self-care treatment plan, as some vitamins or herbal treatments may interfere with other medications or health conditions.