Finding you the perfect article...
Learn how to lower your cortisol levels and discover why it's important.

Lower Your Cortisol! (Here’s Why & How)

10almonds is reader-supported. We may, at no cost to you, receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

Lower Your Cortisol! Here’s Why & How…

Cortisol, or “the stress hormone” to its friends, is produced by your adrenal glands, and as generally considered “not fun”.

It does serve a purpose, of course, just like everything else our body does. It serves as part of the “fight or flight” response, for example, and helps you to wake up in the morning.

While you do need some cortisol (and a small percentage of people have too little), most of us have too much.

Why? Simply put, modern life is not what 200,000* years of human evolution prepared us for:

*the 200,000 years figure is conservative and doesn’t take into account the 200,000,000 years of pre-hominid mammalian evolution. Doing so, on the basis of the mammalian brain & physiology being what’s important here, means our modern stressors have been around for <0.0001% of the time we have.

So guess what, our bodies haven’t caught up. As far as our bodies are concerned, we are supposed to be enjoying the sunshine of grassy plains and the shade of woodland while eating fruit.

  • When the alarm clock goes off, our body panics and prepares us to either flee or help fight the predator, because why else would we have been woken so?
  • When we have a pressing deadline for work, our brain processes this as “if we don’t do this, we will literally starve and die”.
  • When people are upset or angry with us, there’s a part of our brain that fears exile from the tribe and resultant death.

…and so on.

Health Risks of High Cortisol

The long-term stressors are the biggest issue for health. Unless you have a heart condition or other relevant health problem, almost anyone can weather a brief unpleasant surprise. But if something persists? That prompts the body to try to protect you, bless it. The body’s attempts backfire, because…

  • One way it does this by making sure to save as much food as possible in the form of body fat
  • It’ll also increase your appetite, to make sure you eat anything you can while you still can
  • It additionally tries to protect you by keeping you on the brink of fight-or-flight readiness, e.g:
    • High blood pressure
    • High blood sugar levels
    • Rapid mood changes—gotta be able to do those heel-turns as necessary and react quickly to any possible threat!

Suffice it to say, these things are not good for your long-term health.

That’s the “Why”—now here’s the “How”:

Lowering your cortisol levels mostly means lowering your stress and/or lowering your stress response. We previously gave some powerful tools for lowering anxiety, which for these purposes amounts to the same thing.

However, we can also make nutritional and lifestyle changes that will reduce our cortisol levels, for example:

  • Reduce (ideally: eliminate from your lifestyle) caffeine
  • Reduce (ideally: eliminate from your lifestyle) alcohol
    • Yes, really. While many understandably turn to alcohol specifically to help manage stress, it only makes it worse long-term.
    • Additionally, alcohol directly stimulates cortisol production, counterintuitive as that may be.

Read: Alcohol, Aging, and the Stress Response ← full article (with 37 sources of its own) from the NYMC covering how alcohol stimulates cortisol production and what that means for us

As well as reductions/eliminations, are some things you can add into your lifestyle that will help!

We’ve written previously about some:

Read: Ashwagandha / Read: L-Theanine / Read: CBD Oil

Other things include, no surprises here:

Progressive Relaxation

We’ll give this one its own section because we’ve not talked about it before. Maybe you’re familiar. If not, then in a nutshell: progressive relaxation means progressively tensing and then relaxing each part of your body in turn.

Why does this work? Part of it is just a physical trick involving biofeedback and the natural function of muscles to contract and relax in turn, but the other part is even cleverer:

It basically tricks the most primitive part of your brain, the limbic system, into thinking you had a fight and won, telling it “thank you very much for the cortisol but we don’t need it anymore”.

Take a Hike! Or a Stroll… You Do You!

Last but not least: go connect with your roots. Spend time in the park, or at least the garden. Have a picnic, if the weather suits. Go somewhere you can spend time around leafy green things under a blue sky (we realize the blue sky may be subject to availability in some locations, but do what you can!).

Remember also: just as your body’s responses will be tricked by the alarm clock or the housework, they will also be easily tricked by blue and green stuff around you. If a sunny garden isn’t available in your location, a picture of one as your desktop background is the next best thing.

Stay Healthy With Our Daily Newsletter

Our newsletter is our pride and joy

It’s 100% free, and you just need to enter your email below to sign up

If you don’t like it, you can unsubscribe at any time

See More

Related Posts