Do you find yourself stressed out because of the chaos around you? Same. I don’t know about you, but when I am stressed, I like to eat and watch Netflix. Unfortunately, no matter how comfortable I get and how distant I become to my stressor, my body is going to continue to produce cortisol until I can control my stress levels. Cortisol is our stress hormone produced by the adrenal gland. This hormone is responsible for your heart rate to elevate, body temperature to rise, and nervous ticks to get in when you realize your deadline is coming up or you filed your taxes wrong. Cortisol can be useful when our bodies are in motion and ready for action. However, if our bodies are sedentary and unable to move, the cortisol will not be used optimally and will lead to several things:
- Suppressed immune system- body will have a harder time fighting off sickness
- Decrease production of serotonin- this hormone helps us relax and feel good
- Increase blood pressure- this can lead to cardiovascular disease and stroke
- Increased blood sugar- this can lead to diabetes
Here are three steps to take in order to help control our cortisol levels that you can try today!
- Focus on the breath. I know it can be hard to find time in your day to allow time for yourself. All you need is one minute each day where you spend time only thinking about the breath. Start by taking a 4 second inhale and a 4 second exhale. Repeat this for the whole minute and then go back to your day. It will help instill mindfulness throughout your day.
- Exercising can help lower cortisol levels over time. While it increases it during the bout of exercise, during sleep the levels will decrease.
- Drink plenty of water! being dehydrated increases cortisol levels, so stay hydrated and remember to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water everyday.
Just remember that taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be the complex formula you follow. All you need is a few minutes to focus on what your body needs so that you can become the best version of yourself.