In a world that seems to be constantly on the move, stress has become an unwelcome companion for many of us. But how often do we truly recognise the impact it has on our bodies and our lives?

In this video, I delve into the stress hormone cortisol. It’s a silent adversary that often goes unnoticed until it starts wreaking havoc on our health.

Have you ever wondered why you fall sick right after a long-awaited holiday? Or why, despite your best efforts, those extra pounds seem to creep on?

The connection might just lie in the cortisol rollercoaster that our modern, busy lives can put us on. But fear not, there are practical steps you can take to reduce cortisol and regain control.

So, grab a cup of tea and watch the video to begin a journey to a less stressful, more vibrant you.

(If you would prefer to read about it, scroll further down for a transcript instead).

How To Decrease The Stress Hormone Cortisol – Video Transcript

This video is about how to decrease the stress hormone cortisol.

So many of us think we are not that stressed, but how often does it happen that when we go on holiday we get sick.

In our everyday life our immune systems encounter threats that it deals with but sometimes is not able to fully resolve, until we actually take a break – so we have some serious sleep time. Our immune systems believe ‘the war is over’ and can dive into a deeper defence and inflammation resolution – because we are on holiday and our bodies can now have time to sort themselves out and get better. That’s happened to me more than once.

When we sleep we give our bodies time to repair, so when we have trouble sleeping we put our bodies through a really big stressor, which can push up our cortisol levels possibly leading to weight gain and even more sleep deprivation. Mmmm, not a good vicious cycle to be caught up in

So to help lower cortisol and to improve sleep habits, try going to bed a bit earlier, maybe start with 15 minutes earlier until you have worked out the best timing for yourself. Watch gentle things on TV before going to bed.  And if you find you need a nap during the day, let that happen, it can help alleviate some sleep loss.

Our sleep can also be affected by being out of sync with our circadian rhythm, which is our body clock that controls our sleep/wake cycle, amongst others things.

And cortisol production is upset when you’re not living in sync with your circadian rhythm, as cortisol is no longer produced at the right times. Plus, you may find it harder to meet your sleep needs, which causes higher cortisol levels.  Yet another vicious cycle.  So we really need to aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep a night.

And when our cortisol levels are high, because of our  busy and often stressed modern day lives, we so often get stuck in a stressed fight and flight state, and when cortisol is high we can start to gain weight, made worse by sleep problems.  When we don’t get enough sleep, our hunger hormones are thrown out of sync which can lead to overeating, because in stressful situations we often want some comfort and the first thing we reach for is food, anything that is handy, like crisps, chocolate, cake etc etc Have you ever reached for an apple or salad when you are stressed, if you are anything like me, probably not.

So… because high cortisol can lead to high blood sugar levels, causing extra pounds to creep on, which can then lead to our bodies being triggered into releasing glucose, the excess glucose that the body can’t use for energy can be stored as fat, especially belly fat, and obviously causing weight gain.

We all know that we shouldn’t be eating junk food, and to have a balanced intake of proteins, fruits, and vegetables, and to avoid excessive consumption of sugary, processed, and high-fat foods, which can contribute to stress.  So really this is just a reminder of what we already know, it certainly is always a good reminder for me.

Another way to decrease cortisol is to exercise regularly.  Research says that low intensity workouts can actually decrease cortisol levels, while high-intensity workouts can increase cortisol levels, because you are putting your body under a type of stress. While this is okay every now and again, if you’re over-exercising, you may suffer the consequences of high cortisol. So, maybe build some gentle movement into your routine, like stretching, swimming, walking, or gentle yoga.

Meditation dramatically reduces stress, by assisting our minds to be present, calm and serene, and it may be helpful in stressful situations because there will be less cortisol released

Breathing exercises can be really helpful in lowering stress, and reducing cortisol levels.

Try practicing some diaphragmatic breathing, just make sure you are breathing more into the stomach area, rather than just the chest area, and you can breathe in for the count of 4 and out for 6, or maybe just be really present with each breath, and a nice slow count in for 4 and out for 4.  Find what works for you.

Next, get out into nature, in your bare feet.

Getting outside into natural light first thing in the morning is a good thing to do, as this resets your circadian rhythm for the day.  If the weather is bad you can look out the window, just for a longer period of time than being outside – 10 minutes for outside and 30 minutes for inside. If you do get outside, there is a double whammy benefit, the sensation we feel when our feet make contact with the earth, grass, or when walking on a beach, is more than just a feeling. This therapeutic touch of mother earth is laden with remarkable health benefits, like reducing inflammation, boosting antioxidants in our body, and improving sleep

And lastly, reduce your caffeine intake, and it’s probably best to have your coffee in the morning, as caffeine late in the day can keep you up at night. Caffeine increases how much cortisol your body produces, which can be another vicious circle if you find yourself reaching for coffee more than usual to get you through stressful situations.

If you found this information useful and have enjoyed this, feel free to comment below!

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