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High Cortisol Levels Can Lead to An Array of Health Problems – Here Are Simple Ways to Lower Your Stress Hormone

Your senses suddenly wake up from sleep when you hear a weird noise late at night or you also almost instantly jump out of the way when a bike is approaching your way – these responses are possible because of cortisol, a naturally produced hormone in our bodies that is in charge of stress and how we react to it.

How Cortisol Works

Known as the ‘fight or flight’ hormone, cortisol is released by the brain when it senses a threat, causing you to decide whether to run from or address a conflict. However, responding to a stressor may result in heavy and rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and tensed muscles.

Ideally, after you have addressed the issue, your cortisol levels should go back to its normal state. While this response is a big factor in helping us survive on a daily basis, some people don’t return to their pre-threat phase.

This means that their cortisol levels remain elevated. Chronic cases, or if prolonged, can result in depression, chronic fatigue, decreased immune system function, digestive issues, and weight gain.

Get Quality, Sufficient Sleep

More often than not, we think that sleeping is just our body’s way of resting, but little did we know that this is the time when our systems do the restoration of the different parts. Experts advise to get at least seven hours at night but anything less than the recommended prompts cortisol production.

Stock-Asso/Shutterstock — Sleeping is the body’s way of restoring and recharging

Sleep deprived people were found to have high levels of cortisol, a study said. The brain needs seven hours a day to complete the sleep cycle and those who have variations can result in chronic stress.

Relax and Meditate

There’s nothing that can regulate your cortisol levels better than by knowing how to handle stressors. You can’t really control external factors that may be problematic for you but you can manage how your body reacts.

Fizkes/Shutterstock — Meditation can help you manage stress

Relaxation, yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and so many others are just great ways to lower cortisol levels, neurologist Dalia Lorenzo said. In other words, if you are feeling stressed, try your best to practice these activities.

Check What You Eat

Contrary to popular opinion, what we eat also has an effect on how we handle threats. If we have high cortisol levels, our brain is tricked into thinking that we should consume sweets and fatty foods.

When the cortisol level is heightened, the tendency is that we choose comfort foods rather than healthy ones, which, in turn, increases the hormones even more. Avoid fast food, soda, fruit juice, chips, cookies, and candies when you’re stressed.

Spend Time with Your Pet

VK Studio/Shutterstock — Caring for pets takes away your thoughts from stressful things

Apart from relaxing, one effective way to relieve stress is by caring for a pet. For some people, it can be therapeutic to hold and hug their cuddly friends, thereby reducing cortisol.

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