In today’s world there are numerous stressors – work, school, relationships, and even physical stress due to injury or health factors. Many hormones levels fluctuate as a reaction to stress, and this can lead to several health issues. One hormone in particular that can wreak havoc on your body as a result of stress is cortisol.
Cortisol, often called “the stress hormone,” is secreted by the adrenal glands and is involved in several functions including:
- Proper glucose metabolism
- Blood Pressure regulation
- Insulin release for blood sugar maintenance
- Immune function
- Inflammatory response
Additionally, studies indicate that prolonged elevated cortisol levels interfere with learning and memory, lower bone density, increase weight gain, decrease in bone density and muscle tissue, higher blood pressure, and even increased risk for depression, and mental illness.
While the release of cortisol can be beneficial in response to temporary fear or stress, the body needs to return to normal and de-stress, or else cortisol levels build up in the blood and cause physical and mental issues. With very little “down” time in life today, this de-stressing time doesn’t occur like it should, and we are seeing and feeling the effects on our health.
To help bring your cortisol levels back into balance, make time to engage in any/all of these activities daily:
- Physical Activity – any aerobic activity can help you let out your aggression and energy to reduce cortisol
- Meditation or Mindfulness activities – Yoga, meditation, guided imagery, and breathing exercises all help lower stress levels
- Have Fun – get out with friends and family, listen to music, and enjoy life. Human bonding and the joy, laughter, and excitement it brings helps reduce cortisol, and music has the power to improve your mood and reduce stress.
If you are particularly sensitive to stress, incorporate these activities and learn stress management techniques with which you are comfortable. It won’t take long and you’ll see and feel the physical and emotional benefits of reducing stress and cortisol.