It is coming up to the busy holiday time called Christmas. But how do you lower your stress response this Christmas season?
Thanksgiving has passed and the stores are filled with sales for the coming gift-giving season. Can you feel the stress already?!
Its causes are absolutely everywhere. Would you agree?
When you are suffering from fatigue, you are probably wondering how to get through the next few weeks of the holidays without burning out. After all your to-do list is getting bigger each day it seems.
Our natural “fight or flight” stress response can sometimes go a little overboard. It’s supposed to help us escape injury or death in an emergency and then return to normal after escaping the danger. In today’s culture, our stress response is chronic and does not just happen once in a while.
The main stress hormone is called “cortisol.” After your adrenaline kicks in, it’s released from your adrenal glands in response to stress. It’s also naturally high in the morning upon waking, and slowly declines in the afternoon preparing your body for sleep.
Did you know that too-high levels of cortisol are associated with belly fat, poor sleep, brain fog, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and even lowers your immunity? No wonder you feel tired if you are in chronic stress mode!
Do you experience any of these? Well, then read on because I have a list of foods, nutrients and lifestyle recommendations to help you lower this stress hormone naturally!
How to Lower Your Cortisol with Food and Nutrients
The first enemy of cortisol balance is sugar. So it would be wise to reduce this ingredient in our diets for better health and lower your stress response.
High doses of caffeine also increase your cortisol levels. If coffee makes you feel anxious and jittery, then cut back on the amount of caffeine you ingest. Also because fatigue is part of your health complaints, then consider cutting out caffeine and using an alternative drink instead.
Also, being dehydrated increases cortisol. Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day, especially if you feel thirsty. The body requires water for so many functions including giving you more energy. Don’t stress yourself by being dehydrated.
Eat a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods; this doesn't just help reduce the stress hormone, it helps all aspects of your health. These include foods that improve gut health such as probiotic rich, fermented foods such as kefir and sauerkraut along with prebiotic fiber foods found in legumes, whole grains, and some fruits and vegetables.
Lifestyle Habits to Lower Cortisol
Lifestyle is a big factor in your stress response.
The following habits you can adapt to reduce stress:
Mindfulness. Many studies show that reducing stressful thoughts and worry reduces cortisol.
Exercise. While intense exercise increases cortisol levels temporarily, it can reduce overall cortisol levels. Taking a brisk walk will relieve your stress. But be careful to not overdue it or you will be stressed from the intensity of the exercise.
Sleep. Sleep reduces cortisol levels and also helps improve your overall health in so many ways. It is recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night and adapt a sleep routine.
Self Care. Habits like deep breathing, going for a massage, meditation, reading a good book, and listening to relaxing music all reduce cortisol levels.
Nurture Relationships. Maintaining good relationships and spending time with people you like and who support you is so important. Staying connected to positive people will inject you with positive energy that helps reduce stress.
Fatigue is linked to an increase in cortisol levels.
Elevated cortisol levels have several negative impacts on your health. There are many proven ways to reduce levels of cortisol naturally. In doing so, you can reduce your levels of fatigue and find more energy in your day.
In terms of foods and nutrients, have less sugar and caffeine. Increase your intake of water, fruit, vegetables, probiotics, and prebiotics.
Lifestyle factors are huge when it comes to cortisol. To lower yours, exercise (but not too much), get more sleep, relax, and have more fun.
In the comments below, let me know your favorite ways to bust the stress hormone cortisol!