Why You Need to Manage Your Cortisol
There are so many aspects that we each need to focus on if we want to be healthy. One thing which you should always make a point of thinking about and improving is your stress levels. Not only is stress an unpleasant experience in its own right, it is also an indication of other health issues going wrong, and in general it’s a sign that you might not be looking after yourself all that well. In this article, we’ll look at some of the powerful things you can do to reset your stress to zero and manage that cortisol a little better.
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1. Get Plenty Of Sleep – But Not Too Much
Sleep really is a difficult thing to master, and in essence it is mostly about balance. It is clearly important to get a lot of sleep, but there is also such a thing as too much, and you should aim to avoid that as much as possible. Too much sleep can cause a rise in cortisol, just as a lack of sleep can – although in general, it is preferable to get too much sleep rather than too little.
So what can you do to balance it out? Simply put: have a bedtime routine to ensure you get off to sleep earlier, and set an alarm so you don’t sleep in too late. You should be aiming for around 7-9 hours of sleep, with anything over 10 being far too much, and anything under 6 being far too little.
2. Sign Up For A Meditation Class
Of the many benefits of regular meditation, one of the most commonly cited is a reduction in stress. This is not just an anecdotal claim; there is plenty of science to back it up. In one six week Thai study, people who practiced meditation significantly reduced their cortisol levels by an average of 20%, and those in the non-meditating control group actually saw their cortisol spike a little.
If you have never tried meditation before or you are curious as to how to get back into it, consider signing up for a local meditation class. Many classes are meeting online during the pandemic.
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3. Cut Out The Stimulants
If you are taking a lot of stimulants into the body on a regular basis, that is absolutely going to make your cortisol levels rise and keep on rising. Probably the two most commonplace problem stimulants are caffeine and nicotine, and if you tend to use either of these a lot then you will find that cutting down on them is an important and useful first step. That could be as simple as not having any coffee after midday or using an aid like Aspire Zero G to cut down on cigarettes.
However you manage to achieve it, reducing the number of stimulants you take into the body will have a profound effect on the lowering of your cortisol in no time.
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4. Change Up Your Diet
As ever, diet is going to have a big effect here too, and it’s one of the first things you might want to look into if you are keen to keep your stress levels low and manage your cortisol. But what should you be eating more of if you want to do this, and what sorts of things should you probably avoid? As a general rule of thumb, go for plenty of good fats like the omega-3 in salmon, eat plenty of dark greens, and you can even have a little dark chocolate too. You’ll also find herbal tea and fermented foods like yogurt help.
On the other side of things, try to avoid processed foods as much as possible, and work hard to keep yourself from eating too many carbs. That should all help to keep your cortisol levels pretty low on the whole.
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5. Deep Breathing
Did you know that most of us actually breathe wrong? That is, we have forgotten how to properly breathe, and in so doing we actually exacerbate our stress and keep our cortisol levels high. Because of a combination of sitting at desks and living stressful, quick-paced lives, we have started to do more shallow, chest breathing than deep, belly breathing. However, abdominal breathing is our natural mode, and it is known to cause much less cortisol than shallow breathing, which should be reserved for when you are in fight and flight situations.
You can therefore improve your stress levels just by making a point of doing plenty of deep breathing, rather than all that shallow breathing we are all used to.
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