My fight or flight response has been triggered 2 times in the past 7 days. Uh oh! I know what this does to the body. It triggers a release of cortisol and cortisol is what gives us the surge for getting through short-term or long-term, even chronic stress.
If you suffer from chronic stress, your cortisol levels can become too high and stay that way too long. Over an extended period of time, elevated levels of cortisol have negative effects on the body, including, but not limited to, weight gain, sleep problems, and an increased risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.
Here are 9 stress reduction tips to follow in order to lower your cortisol levels and improve your overall mental and physical health.
1. Maintain healthy relationships
This includes, and should even start with, the relationship you have with yourself.
Are there issues you’ve hidden way or keep stepping over? Find a coach or therapist who can hear your feelings and give you strategies for change you’ll actually use. Your relationships with family, friends, co-workers and romantic interests all need to be viewed with open eyes and a willingness to say goodbyes where doing so is best for your wel-lbeing.
2. Get an accurate picture of your current health
Bodies in stressed-out condition scream for more Vitamins B, C and magnesium. Get a complete physical and discuss the results, your daily routine and a stress reduction plan with your doctor, including their recommendations for an optimal exercise plan.
3. Meditate and try some relaxing breathing and mindfulness exercises
Start each day with even as little as 10 to 15 minutes of guided or self-guided meditation. Consider going outside somewhere as close as your yard or as far as a peaceful mountain trail.
If you check in with your breathing throughout the day, you're likely to find it centered up in your chest or throat. Work on moving it down slowly.
4. Schedule a massage
Physical touch can be a welcoming, soothing and muscle-relaxing break in a busy week that is none of those things.
5. Get adequate rest
Getting seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night is essential. Unfortunately, an already high cortisol level can make this difficult.
Ask your doctor about natural ways to induce or regulate sleep until your levels get back to a place where your body will go to sleep naturally. Some forms of healthy melatonin or “sleepy” herbal teas are available without a prescription.
6. Have fun!
Use your humor. Watch your favorite stand-up comedian live or on Comedy Central. Search for silly videos on YouTube. Get up and dance to your favorite music.
7. Shake your sugar habit
That same advice to eat a healthy, balanced diet applies here as it does everywhere else. Remember that alcohol is also sugar, so bring your consumption way, way down. Sorry this one's not easy. lol
While we’re at it, do the same with coffee or anything else with caffeine. Where there’s chocolate (sugar), there’s caffeine, except the dark, no-sugar-added variety.
8. Pet a pet
Our well-being is quickly enhanced when we stroke our furry friends. Our brain releases those feel-good chemicals, including dopamine, oxytocin and norepinephrine.
9. Find something that gives you a sense of purpose
People who feel some sense of our role in the world — be it for the next month, year, or lifetime — have access to daily happiness. This can be in the form of thoughts or actions each day. Acts of kindness, whether we offer them through humanity, Mother Nature, religion, or another spiritual focus, maintains lower cortisol levels and reduces anxiety and depression.