Cortisol in a nutshell, is one of our body's responses to stress. It is a hormone that is released by the adrenal glands during stressful times.
While this served humanity long ago (fight or flight), today we are under constant stress. It should be noted our stress comes from many sources throughout the day, stressors are not just emotional issues. Just a few sources of stress that can lead to cortisol release:
Children and Teens
Rush Hour Traffic
Marital and Relationship Difficulties
Long Lines at the Bank, the Grocer... When You're In a Hurry
You get the idea - we live with constant stress
So, the flood gates to cortisol production remain open, so to speak. This creates a chain reaction in our body. Cortisol is responsible for:
Increasing Blood Sugar
Suppressing Immune System
Metabolism of Fat, Carbs and Proteins
Restore * Homeostasis after Stress
* What is Homeostasis? Homeostasis, simply put, is the ideal balance of your internal body systems in that all systems within your body are working appropriately.
Stress = Cortisol Production = Excess Glucose Production (which is converted to fat) = Insulin Production = Thyroid disorders (Under-conversion T4 to T3)
So now, our body has this fat that isn't burned off, so it is stored, like having the extra freezer in the garage for food storage, our body does exactly the same thing, only the 'garage' is your body.
Your thyroid is also affected by cortisol, as they work synergistically together. Cortisol helps the thyroid work efficiently - but it requires the right balance of cortisol for optimal thyroid function.
In addition, over production of cortisol will lead to
Binge Eating Sugar and Salt Cravings
Tired and Sluggish Feeling
So the cycle goes until you're too tired to do much of anything, and all this extra fat keeps getting stored, mostly in the abdominal area, which is the hardest to take off.
How to Lower Cortisol Levels
In order to lower cortisol production and the resulting fat, adrenal fatigue and thyroid imbalance we must address several things at once. If you don't address the source of the excessive cortisol production, you will not have lasting healthy results.
Reduce Stress and support your body in how it reacts to stress
Keep Blood Sugar within the normal range with low-carb diet. Consume foods with low glycemic index.
The following are recommendations for lowering cortisol:
Reduce day-to-day stress
A big factor here is how you react to all the little things that stress us out during the day. It's important to learn to 'not sweat the small stuff'. If you're stuck in traffic, so be it, nothing will change that short of finding an alternative route.
DON'T TAKE THINGS PERSONAL: If you're mother-in-law treats you like dirt, don't take it personal. If your boss is an _ _ _ - that's his problem - he's the _ _ _ - not you. (While he's behaving poorly, sing a little song (in your head so you don't get fired) You're an _ _ _ and I'm not, You're an _ _ _ and I'm not...
Yes, I know, easier said than done, but you can learn to retrain your reactions to such things.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH: heck, take several. Close your eyes and visualize something that makes you smile and then smile. Smile a lot actually. Especially smile at the nasty boss or mother-in-law.
LAUGH MORE: Watch a comedy, listen to comedy in your car if driving stresses you out. Me personally, I sing, really loudly, when I'm driving. And I've been told I'm completely tone deaf - but I don't care. Singing reduces stress for me. Try it.
DANCE: My husband hates to dance, I love to. I dance in the shower sometimes. Okay, it's more like just like shaking my hips, but it's fun. And it doesn't matter what I look like, I'm in there alone anyway, singing and shaking while shampooing.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE PEOPLE: Lose the 'life-sucking emotional vampires' that call themselves friends. If you don't have a good group of solid, supportive, fun friends, go get some. I distance myself from people who whine and complain about everything every time I see them. It's normal to need some uplifting support now and again - but if I feel drained every time I see a person, I have to ask myself if the 'friendship' is worth it.
GROW: Emotionally, intellectually, artistically, spiritually... Feed your mind and your spirit with things that uplift you and provide a sense of accomplishment.
WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK: Or sing, I can't whistle to save my life. I sing. I play broadway musicals and sing during housework. It's like pressing the de-stress button for me.
BREAK OUT IN SONG: CAUTION: you may want to limit the random 'breaking out in song' for appropriate times, the middle of the grocery store might make you seem a bit off.
DE-STRESS PHRASE: Come up with a word or phrase to help remind you when you're getting stressed to slow down: Take some breaths, visualize or Here's a few ideas: I'm a happy person, I'm so calm, I'm so peaceful, I'm so... Once you have your phrase, sit alone with your eyes closed, visualize something wonderful and funny and uplifting while you repeat this phrase. Allow yourself to feel the joy and laughter that you visualize. Do this for several minutes. Now whenever you need to bring stress down a notch, say to yourself this phrase, recall the happy feeling you felt during your visualization and allow yourself to feel that way again. (Now, you may be thinking I've gone off the deep end here, but it really does work, if you embrace it - and what the heck, you have absoutely nothing to lose - except stress)
Get a massage
Take a shower
Go to the beach or someplace that makes you feel content and peaceful
Okay, you're getting the idea here. There's a million ways to de-stress. Use them all at different and appropriate times. Don't stress over how to de-stress - just do it.
Based on scientific research, The following clinically proven supplements-herbs are recommended. I've listed the necessary dosages too:
ADDRESS DIET: Make changes to your diet. Following a low-glycemic diet is best for your health and your waistline. Improper diet can also cause mood swings, hmmm, more stress.
ADDRESS PHYSICAL FITNESS: Create a plan to start moving. If you are limited due to illness, start small. If you are confined to a wheelchair, can you move your arms? Do it. If you are in chronic pain, can you swim for 5 minutes a day? Exercise is critical to health and well being. There are too many issues surrounding it to start here, but the important thing is you just start, even if it's one-five minutes a day and you build slowly. Being physically fit helps you deal with stress better."