How to reduce cortisol?

How to reduce cortisol?

What’s covered?

How to reduce cortisol?

Cortisol, a stress hormone or steroid hormone produced, and released by the adrenal glands, assists your body in coping with stressful situations, as your brain causes its release via the sympathetic nervous system, which is the system that controls your fight or flight response, in reaction to a variety of perceived stress.

While the short-term production of cortisol levels can aid in your ability to flee from danger, when levels are excessively high for an extended period, this hormone can do more harm than good. This could eventually result in several health problems, such as weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, insomnia or difficulty sleeping, mood irregularities, and low energy levels.

Why high cortisol can be dangerous?

Studies over the past 20 years have shown that moderate to high cortisol levels may cause a variety of health problems, including:

  • Chronic disease

Your chance of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and other chronic conditions may increase if your cortisol levels are chronically elevated.

  • Weight gain

Cortisol may make people hungrier and alert the body to change their metabolism to fat storage.

  • Sleep deprivation/difficulty sleeping

It may interact with sleep hormones, which could affect the quantity and sleep quality.

  • Difficulty concentrating

Some people describe having difficulty focusing and a loss of mental clarity, which is often known as brain fog.

  • Impaired immune system

Cortisol overproduction can weaken the immune system, reducing the ability to fight infections.

  • Cushing’s syndrome

Occasionally, extremely high levels of cortisol might cause Cushing's syndrome, a rare but severe condition.

Many underlying conditions, including overactivity of the pituitary or adrenal glands, cancer, chronic stress, and drug side effects, can result in elevated cortisol levels for example prednisone, and hormonal therapy. To determine the underlying cause of your health difficulties, it is therefore best to engage with a knowledgeable health practitioner. You might also wish to adopt some healthy lifestyle practices that can help you lower your cortisol levels.

There are many factors that change how much cortisol you have and having a too high level can be dangerous.

Medical Advice

  • Get the right amount of sleep

Setting your sleep hygiene as a top priority may help you reduce cortisol levels. When cortisol levels get too high it has been linked to chronic sleep issues such as obstructive sleep apnoea, insomnia, and shift work. Although you do not have perfect control over your sleep schedule whether you work the night shift or a rotating shift, there are several things you can do to enhance sleep:

  • Have a bedtime routine

Setting up a regular evening routine, such as taking a shower, reading a book, etc., might signal your brain and body to begin preparing for sleep.

  • Carry the same routine while going to bed and waking up

One of the best approaches to practising good sleep hygiene has been demonstrated to be a regular sleep pattern.

  • Exercise regularly and earlier in the day

Regular exercise can improve sleep quality, but it must be performed at least 2-3 hours before bed.

  • Limit caffeine intake

Try to avoid consuming any caffeine-containing foods or beverages six hours or more before going to bed.

  • Avoid nicotine and alcohol

Both substances have an impact on the length and quality of sleep.

  • Limit exposure to bright light at night

Limit your exposure to intense or blue light 45–60 minutes before bed. Read a book or tune into a podcast in bed instead of pulling out your phone.

  • Go to bed in a quiet room

Utilize white noise, earplugs, and phone silence to reduce disruptions.

  • Take naps

Napping can help you feel less sleepy and avoid experiencing a sleep deficit if shift work limits your sleep time. However, non-shift employees' sleep may be worsened by naps.

Exercise, but not too much

Exercise can either boost or decrease cortisol levels, depending on its intensity. Cortisol is raised immediately after intense exercise but drops some hours later. This temporary boost aids in coordinating the body's growth to meet the challenge. Additionally, the amount of cortisol response can be reduced through regular exercise.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of regular exercise in the enhancement of sleep, reduce stress, and boosting of general health, all of which can eventually lead to lower cortisol levels. It's interesting to note that regular exercise has also been linked to improved resilience to acute stress and may lessen the harmful health impacts of stress, such as elevated cortisol.

However, going overboard can have the opposite consequence. Therefore, each week, try to focus on low- to moderate-intensity exercise and give yourself some downtime in between sessions.

Recognize stressful thinking

You can easily be able to stop your stressful thoughts by paying attention to them. The key to mindfulness-based stress reduction is increasing your self-awareness of your stress-inducing ideas, accepting them without opposition or judgment, and giving yourself the space to process them.

You may reduce oxidative stress and recognize when it starts by teaching yourself to be conscious of your thoughts, breathing, heart rate, and other tension-related symptoms.

You can stop being a victim of your stressed thoughts by putting your attention on monitoring your physical and mental health. You can create an intentional response to stressful thoughts by being aware of them. For instance, a study involving a mindfulness-based program revealed a relationship between the capacity to verbalize and explain stress was linked to lower cortisol response.

Other research has demonstrated that people can reduce cortisol levels naturally by consistently practising mindfulness. Therefore, to improve stress management and decrease cortisol levels, consider incorporating mindfulness-based practices into your daily routine.


One of the easiest relaxation techniques to relieve stress that can be done anywhere is deep breathing exercises. Controlled breathing is similar to mindfulness-based practices in that it encourages the sympathetic nerve system, also referred to as the "rest and digest" system, which can lower cortisol levels.

Cortisol levels were shown to drop after individuals integrated deep breathing exercises into their routines. Meditation, yoga, tai chi, and qigong are examples of practices that place a heavy focus on breathing and the mind-body connection. Numerous studies have found that these techniques can assist to lower cortisol naturally and manage stress.

Have fun and laugh

Having fun and laughing is another strategy to keep cortisol levels low. Laughing increases endorphin release and decreases stress hormones like cortisol. It's also connected to improved mood, reduced stress and pain perception, lower blood pressure, and a stronger immune system. Surprisingly, both genuine and forced laughter help reduce stress levels.

Laughing yoga, for example, has been demonstrated to lower cortisol levels, reduce stress, improve mood, and raise perceived energy levels. Hobbies can also enhance feelings of well-being, which can lead to decreased cortisol levels. A study of veterans found that gardening reduced levels more than conventional occupational therapy. Another study found that persons who engaged in hobbies they enjoyed had significantly lower cortisol levels.

Maintain a healthy social life

Outside influence from friends, family and strangers can greatly effect your cortisol levels. Make sure that you don't let your social life drain you completely, it is okay to take some time to yourself.

Eat a nutritious and healthy diet

Food diet intervention dampens cortisol for better or for worse. While all meals can be loved in balance, being attentive to the things you consume may help you control your cortisol levels and decrease stress symptoms. Cortisol levels may be raised if you consume a lot of sugar regularly. Surprisingly, a high-sugar diet may inhibit cortisol release following stressful events, making it even harder for your body to cope. Healthy gut bacteria which are all the germs that live in your gut have been linked to better mental health in studies. As a result, eating foods that support a healthy gut may help reduce stress and anxiety while also improving your general health.

Other meals that can aid with cortisol management include:

  • Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate contains a lot of flavonoids, which lower cortisol levels and prevent stress reactivity in the adrenal glands.

  • Whole grains

Whole grains, as opposed to processed grains, are high in plant-based polyphenols and fibre, which may help with stress levels and digestive health.

  • Legumes and lentils

They're strong in fibre, which promotes digestive health while also controlling blood sugar levels.

  • Whole fruits and vegetables

Whole fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, and polyphenolic substances and increasing dietary carbohydrates can aid fight cell-damaging free radicals.

  • Green tea

Green tea includes L-theanine, a relaxing chemical that has been associated with reduced stress and greater mental alertness.

  • Probiotics and prebiotics

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in food such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Prebiotics, such as soluble fibre, feed these microorganisms. Probiotics and prebiotics have both been linked to improved gut and mental health.

  • Healthy fats

A diet rich in unsaturated fat and low in saturated fat has been linked to improved general health and mental well-being. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, have been linked to improved brain function and reduced stress.

  • Water

Dehydration has been related to a brief rise in cortisol levels, emphasizing the importance of drinking plenty of water all day long to lower cortisol levels naturally.

Managing your cortisol levels are important for long term health.

Why is the cortisol level test so important?

A cortisol level test measures the amount of cortisol in your blood using a blood sample. The cortisol level test determines if the cortisol production levels are overly high or excessively low. Certain diseases, such as Addison's and Cushing's, impact the quantity of cortisol produced by your adrenal glands. The test is used to diagnose various disorders as well as to evaluate the function of the adrenal and pituitary glands.

Cortisol is involved in various bodily systems, including:

  • Stress response
  • Immune system
  • Nervous system
  • Circulatory system
  • Skeletal system
  • The breakdown of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates

The bottom line

While cortisol is necessary to respond to physiological and psychological stimuli, chronically high cortisol levels can negatively affect health. Adopting healthy lifestyle behaviours, in addition to communicating with a healthcare expert, can help naturally reduce your cortisol levels. If you want to lower your cortisol levels naturally, consider the easy lifestyle changes listed above.

We suggest you take a look at our Cortisol Blood Test kit that will help you check your cortisol levels. Cortisol is produced by adrenal glands in response to increase stress, thus this kit will also give you insight into how your body is coping with stressful states.

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