Due to the hectic pace of modern life, it has become increasingly difficult to avoid stressful situations in and out of the home.
Individuals from all stages of life experience stress to varying degrees. But do you know what is the primary stress hormones of our body? That’s right, it’s Cortisol. Having a higher or lower cortisol levels still affects our health. So here, as you read along, I have managed to write down 5 tips in managing your cortisol level.
Knowing how to reduce Stress and Cortisol Level
Common sources of stress
Stress comes from different sources. That means it also varies from different people. Health problems arise that may cause physical effects on our body. It may cause damaging effects on our mental health as well.
Depression and anxiety are two of the effects of stress, which are mostly common to women. Even though that’s the case, women are more engaged on stress management programs.
Some of people’s most common sources of stress include:
– Financial hardships
– issues at work
– unsuccessful relationships
– familial obligations
How Stress Affects You Physically
However, while we do not usually think of stress in positive terms, we oftentimes fail to really examine the physical toll it takes on our bodies.
According to the American Pyschological Association, women are under more stress than men. But both men and women are aware of the physical impact that stress might affect health.
If you experience physical symptoms of stress and you can’t anymore handle it, it’s best to seek medical advice from health care practitioners.
Physical Symptoms of Stress
Stress can result in a number of physical ailments. As a matter of fact, one of the most widely reported symptoms of stress is insomnia. This is because individuals experiencing stress frequently have a hard time falling or staying asleep. Over time, this can lead to fatigue, which can impact one’s ability to concentrate or focus.
Acute stress, which is a short-term response to agitating or alarming stimuli, can also trigger panic and asthma attacks in those that are predisposed to those conditions.
Other physical manifestations of stress include headaches, digestive problems, muscular pain and chest aches. All of which have the potential to disrupt our everyday performance in the home or workplace.
How Can Chronic Stress Affect You?
Chronic stress is the outcome of a prolonged state of emotional distress.
Symptoms of chronic stress include:
– abdominal soreness
– disrupted sleep
More worryingly, chronic stress can increase one’s risk of developing more serious long-term physical disorders.
Chronic stress can heighten one’s chances of developing cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of the death in many countries. It has also been found to aggravate heart disease symptoms and can contribute to the risk of stroke and hypertension. Likewise, chronic stress can also hamper the immune system. Studies have found that, after a period of time, chronic stress weakens the immune system. This can leave the body susceptible to illnesses.
Mindfulness and Stress
The good news is that there are many ways to manage stress. Practicing mindfulness, the art of directing one’s focus to the present, is a strong aid in the battle against stress. Mindfulness can take many forms. Yoga, meditation, going for a walk and deep breathing exercises – these are all stress-relieving practices that anyone can do on any given day of the week.
Related Post: Practical Mindfulness Tips for Busy Moms
Mindfulness helps combat stress by improving one’s ability to concentrate on, confront and control thoughts about stressful situations in a productive and beneficial way. Rather than attempting to ignore or suppress feelings of stress, mindful acknowledgement and management of one’s concerns and frustrations is the key to a healthier life.
Managing Your Cortisol Level
Cortisol is the stress hormone secreted by your adrenal glands—those little organs sitting on top of your kidneys. It is secreted in response to some type of physical or emotional danger that your body perceives. The important thing to note is that we get into trouble with cortisol when your body is constantly sensing danger and your cortisol ‘on’ switch is stuck in that ‘on’ position.
One of the main functions of cortisol is to regulate your blood sugar levels.
Maintaining normal levels of cortisol will help keep your blood sugar levels even, your energy levels sufficient for doing what you want and help keep your other hormones in balance. When cortisol is ‘out of whack’, you accumulate belly fat (resulting to rapid weight gain), feel wired but tired and crave sugar and sweets.
In 2011, the American Psychological Association found 75% of Americans claimed they have an unhealthy amount of stress to bear on a daily basis. Dr. Mark Hyman, family physician and New York Times best-selling author says, “Ninety five percent of disease is either caused by or worsened by stress.”
We have not been successful at managing our stress (or our reaction to imagined stress) and as a consequence, there is a rampant epidemic of elevated cortisol throughout the civilized world! Dr. Sara Gottfried, the author of “The Hormone Cure” has created a protocol to address elevated or decreased cortisol levels. The same person can suffer from high cortisol and low cortisol levels, sometimes in the same day.
Begin now to manage your own cortisol levels and prevent the shifts in either direction.
Here are 5 action steps to start the process to get your cortisol level under control by managing your stress load:
1. Spend quiet time daily in meditation.
Allocating a few hours daily for meditation will help reduce the cortisol level. Meditation have healthy benefits on you and is highly recommended to manage stress. But this doesn’t happen unless you schedule the time in your calendar. Make an appointment with yourself and then keep that appointment for long-term.
2. Likewise, mark out time on your calendar for exercise.
Short spurts of exercise are just as effective as one long session. The important thing is to do it! And again, it doesn’t get done unless you make an appointment on your calendar to spend that time with yourself.
We know that having regular exercise have higher chances of increased heart rate and blood flow. So get those running shoes on and start pumping blood around your body.
3. Eat from the earth.
Eat your fruits and veggies every day. Mother was right about eating your greens. There’s plenty of scientific evidence that stress levels diminish with a plant-based diet. Even if you don’t completely go vegan, add more fruits and vegetables to each meal every day to get the benefit.
4. Have an attitude of gratitude.
As a matter of fact, a gratitude journal is a phenomenal way to raise your energy vibration and lower your stress level.
5. Limit your alcohol and caffeine consumption.
Both raise cortisol levels and continue the ‘fight or flight response’ merry-go-round spinning. So if you are experiencing symptoms of elevated cortisol, choose a different beverage.
So there you have it! We know stress is rampant in our society along with all of the symptoms of unregulated cortisol. Before you begin to suffer from symptoms of excess cortisol—take the following action step: Look over the list of the five suggestions above and pick one to implement today. If you are not spending regular exercise time, begin today—tomorrow at the latest. Or if you recognize yourself as one who is really relying on a lot of caffeine or alcohol, wean yourself from one and then the other.
Once your new action becomes a habit and you’re doing it without even thinking about it, pick another strategy on this list and implement it. Track your progress on a calendar or in a journal as a great way to visually follow your success.