Techniques to Reduce Cortisol Levels and Alleviate Stress

May 09, 2024

Techniques to Reduce Cortisol Levels and Alleviate Stress

In today’s fast-paced world, stress is far from scarce. In fact, according to a report by the American Psychological Association, over a quarter of adults say they are under too much stress, even to the point of being unable to function properly.
It's like a tidal wave of stress hormone called cortisol rising and crashing within our collective systems. Just imagining that wave is... well, stressful.
However, there are some simple steps you can take to better control cortisol levels and prevent stress from skyrocketing.

• Cortisol and Stress
Cortisol is a hormone naturally produced by the body. It is produced and released into your bloodstream by the adrenal glands. Cortisol affects nearly every organ system in the body, but its status as a "stress hormone" gives it a bit of a bad rap.
Cortisol supports overall health, helping us wake up in the morning, providing energy throughout the day, and lowering energy at night to help us sleep and rest.
Problems arise when prolonged stress leads to elevated cortisol levels.

High cortisol levels for weeks or months can lead to inflammation and various mental and physical health issues, such as:
Weight gain.
Heart disease.

The good news? There are ways to prevent the production of cortisol from increasing.

• How to Manage Cortisol Levels
There's a lot of information and theories about cortisol control. For example, you might have heard that drinking a cup of green tea or eating dark chocolate can lower cortisol levels.
Well, it's not that simple.
Nutrition is crucial for dealing with stress and maintaining mood, but no one food can do it all. You have to examine your entire lifestyle to understand what factors are causing cortisol to rise and how to address those factors to alleviate stress.
Let's break it down into three categories—lifestyle choices, food, and herbs/supplements.

• Changing Lifestyle to Reduce Cortisol
Changing daily habits and activities can be beneficial for maintaining healthy cortisol levels and reducing stress. Here are four ways that target both body and mind:
Physical activity is beneficial for your whole body, so it's no surprise that it helps relieve stress too. Research suggests that exercise helps lower cortisol levels, especially as you age.

Farm Haven Sleep

When it comes to managing stress, few things are more important than getting a good night's sleep. On the other hand, lack of sleep is associated with elevated cortisol levels. So, don't skimp on shut-eye time.
3.Get outside.
Spending time in nature is a great way to calm the brain. The practice of "forest bathing"—essentially strolling through the woods and breathing in forest air—can lower cortisol levels and reduce stress. (Bring bug spray so mosquitoes don't stress you out.)
4.Practice mindfulness.
Yoga, tai chi, meditation, and breathing exercises can effectively reduce stress and maintain lower cortisol levels.

• How Food Affects Cortisol

FarmHaven Nutrition

Good nutrition can change your stress levels. Research shows that eating nutrient-rich and anti-inflammatory foods can calm your body down and slow down cortisol production.
This list includes:
• Magnesium-rich foods like avocados, bananas, dark chocolate, broccoli, and spinach.
• Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish (mackerel, salmon, tuna), chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
• Gut-friendly foods like Greek yogurt, kombucha, and sauerkraut.

A Mediterranean diet or other balanced diet plans that emphasize plant-based foods can effectively control cortisol levels. Healthy eating is a key part of stress management.
On the other hand, consuming too many high-sugar foods (such as cookies and cakes) or drinking soda or excessive alcohol and caffeine-containing beverages may cause cortisol and stress levels to spike.

• Herbs and Supplements to Reduce Cortisol
Some herbs and natural supplements may help keep cortisol levels within a healthy range, like FarmHaven's magnesium supplements.
Examples include:
• Ashwagandha.
• Rhodiola.
• Lemon balm.
• Chamomile.

However, please note: While certain herbs may help lower cortisol levels, you don't want to just pop pills from a bottle to relieve stress. After all, cortisol production is a response to stress, not necessarily the driving factor behind bodily stress. So, blindly taking supplements to lower cortisol may not address the root cause of stress.
In addition to supplements, many herbal teas contain herbs that lower cortisol levels. For example, the herbs listed above plus chamomile, peppermint, and passionflower.
Take some time to brew a cup of soothing herbal tea, breathe in the fragrant aroma deeply, and then place your hands around the warm mug. It's a great way to reset the nervous system.

 • Final Thoughts
When it comes to stress reduction and lowering cortisol levels, there's no one-size-fits-all approach.
No single food, drug, or activity will give you lasting happiness and calmness, but in the long run, healthy choices can set your body up for success in low-stress environments.