Cortisol is the stress hormone, which is considered one of the biggest health battles that the body faces on a daily basis. High levels of cortisol will interfere with memory, learning, lowers immune function, reduces bone density, increases weight, elevates blood pressure, and raises cholesterol.
The toxic mixture of an elevated cortisol level along with injecting chronic stress is associated with accelerating the risk of developing certain mental illnesses such as depression, which contributes towards a lower life expectancy.
What occurs is a release of cortisol in response to every time that the body feels stress or fear in the adrenal glands. This the chemical reaction which activates the classic “fight-or-flight” mechanism that we face on a daily basis.
The Fight Or Flight Response
Once there’s a release of cortisol, the body then automatically becomes ready for action, so there needs to be a physical release of some type. The build up of stagnant cortisol in the blood isn’t a healthy state for the mind or the body.
What the activation of “eustress,” which is the good stress, does is it creates that “seize-the-day” state of awareness, which is linked to reacting towards a tangible goal. The cortisol levels then returns back to normal once the task is completed.
What elevated anxiety or distress doesn’t provide is an outlet which the cortisol needs, as what they fail to do is activate the fight-or-flight mechanism to reverse itself.
So the key becomes to making the lifestyle choices which forces the cortisol levels to drop, which includes reducing stress and anxiety.
Routine Physical Exercise
Sweat it out by letting go of the pent up aggression which is the “fight” response. So try a punching bag or martial arts, some type of action which lets go of the built up anger and stress, which reduces cortisol.
Conversely, aerobic activities such as walking, jogging, biking, swimming, or any of the elliptical equipment at the gym, recreates and complies to the ‘flight’ response, which also reduces cortisol. Performing cardio can also help, so try doing anywhere up to 30 minutes of activity on a daily basis.
What fear does is it increases cortisol. What doing routine physical activity does is it decreases this fear by increasing your resilience, confidence, and fortitude. Yoga is also known to have similar benefits, along with other mindfulness based training.
If you don’t have the time to go to the gym, or go for a run, then try riding a bike or walk to work, and always take the stairs, etc. These activities may not seem like much, but they do add up during the day to reduce cortisol.
Be Socially Connected
It’s found that social isolation and social aggression leads to increased cortisol levels, which can also trigger a series of potential mental health issues, particularly in adolescence.
It was found that these symptoms in young adults, at a particular period in their brain development, can potentially lead towards illness issues such as schizophrenia.
So what’s extremely important is to develop close human bonds, this with friends, family, and particularly romantic partnerships, which is a vital foundation when it comes to one’s mental and physical health, this at any age.
There are studies which supports that the Vagus nerve responds to human connectivity along with physical touch, which relaxes the parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces cortisol.
The “be a friend” response is the direct polar opposite to the “fight-or-flight” response. What the “be a friend” response does is it increases oxytocin, which counteracts cortisol.
So make an effort to spend more live “face” time with your loved ones, this as often as you can. Even just a quick phone call or giving a “Like” on Facebook is known to reduce cortisol levels, as they provide a feeling of genuine connectivity.
Just Laugh It Out Loud
It’s found that having a good time is important. So put on your party hat and have a bit of fun and laugh, as it’s the premier tonic to reduce cortisol levels.
A foremost research specialist who has been studying the benefits and effects of laughter, preferably out loud, has found that there are chemical reactors which reduces levels of the stress hormones.
Numerous studies have shown the benefits of having an excellent sense of humor, to make others laugh, to laugh at yourself and life in general. So try finding ways in your daily life to have a chuckle, joke around as much as possible, find a favorite comedy sitcom which cracks you up.
Listen To Music
Those soothing sounds or that upbeat pop rock that you enjoy listening to, the type that fits whatever mood you may be in, has proven to naturally lower cortisol levels.
When listing the wide range of benefits when listening to music, what’s realized are the immediate powers which it has to reducing stress levels, just by simply bopping to a tune.
So when things get hectic, put on your headphones and begin reducing your cortisol levels, as any variety of music will influence the quality, health, and happiness of your life.
Mindfulness And Meditation
Any type of meditation is proven to reduce anxiety. What just taking a few deep soothing breaths does is it engages the Vagus nerve, which signals your nervous system to slow down your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and decrease cortisol.
So the next time that you feel stressed out, as you begin to feel that “fight-or-flight” response kicking in, stop yourself and take as many as 10 deep breaths, and then instantly feel your entire body begin to relax.
It’s thought that just 10 to 15 minute sessions of practicing any type of mindfulness or meditation will inject calm and peace throughout the nervous system, cells, and the brain.