Stress is a common & most hectic problem in this modern day life. Now a days it’s common in old age, youths, and even children are also victimized by this serious issue.
Now when we are talking about stress, we are actually talking about CORTISOL HORMONE (Stress Hormone).
Elevated cortisol levels increase risk of depression, mental illness, lower life expectancy, interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease and many more other problems. Cortisol is released in response to fear or stress by the adrenal glands as part of the fight-or-flight mechanism. In simple words, the release of Cortisol Hormone is directly proportional to the magnitude of stress you are handling.
Causes of Stress-
- work – for example, unemployment, a high workload or retirement
- family – for example, divorce, relationship difficulties or being a carer
- housing – for example, moving house or problems with neighbours
- personal issues – for example, coping with a serious illness, bereavement or financial problems
It’s important to tackle the causes of stress in your life if you can. Avoiding problems rather than facing them can make things worse.
But it’s not always possible to change a stressful situation. You may need to accept there’s nothing you can do about it and refocus your energies elsewhere.
Symptoms of stress-
How you may feel emotionally
- irritable and “wound up”
- anxious or fearful
- lacking in self-esteem
How you may feel mentally
- racing thoughts
- constant worrying
- difficulty concentrating
- difficulty making decisions
How you may feel physically
- muscle tension or pain
- sleep problems
- feeling tired all the time
- eating too much or too little
How you may behave
- drinking or smoking more
- snapping at people
- avoiding things or people you are having problems with
Luckily, you can make 5 simple lifestyle choices that will reduce stress, anxiety and lower your cortisol levels. Below are 5 tips for reducing your cortisol levels everyday:
- Regular Physical Activity: Kick boxing, sparring, or a punching bag are terrific ways to recreate the “fight” response by letting out aggression (without hurting anyone) and to reduce cortisol.
Any aerobic activity, like walking, jogging, swimming, biking, riding the elliptical… are great ways to recreate the ‘flight’ outlet and burn-up cortisol. A little bit of cardio goes a long way. Just 20-30 minutes of activity most days of the week pays huge dividends by lowering cortisol every day and in the long-run.
Fear increases cortisol. Regular physical activity will decrease fear by increasing your self-confidence, resilience, and fortitude—which will reduce cortisol. Yoga will have similar benefits with added benefits of mindfulness training.
- Mindfulness and Loving-Kindness Meditation (LKM): Any type of meditation will reduce anxiety and lower cortisol levels. Simply taking a few deep breaths engages the Vagus nerve which triggers a signal within your nervous system to slow heart rate, lower blood pressure and decreases cortisol. The next time you feel yourself in a stressful situation that activates your ‘Fight-or-Flight’ response take 10 deep breaths and feel your entire body relax and decompress.
- Social Connectivity: Two studies published this week in the journal Science illustrate that social agression and isolation lead to increased levels of cortisol in mice that trigger a cascade of potential mental health problems—especially in adolescence.
Close knit human bonds—whether it be family, friendship or a romantic partner—are vital for your physical and mental health at any age. Recent studies have shown that the Vagus nerve also responds to human connectivity and physical touch to relax your parasympathetic nervous system.
- Laughter and Levity: Having fun and laughing reduces cortisol levels. Many studies have shown the benefits of having a sense of humor, laughter and levity. Try to find ways in your daily life to laugh and joke as much as possible and you’ll lower cortisol levels.
- Listening to Music that you love, and fits whatever mood you’re in, has been shown to lower cortisol levels. We all know the power of music to improve mood and reduce stress. Add reducing your cortisol levels as another reason to keep the music playing as a soundtrack of health and happiness in your life.
I hope the tips presented above will help you make lifestyle choices that reduce your levels of stress hormone.