Let's be real! Life can be stressful sometimes, and unfortunately, we can't control all of the stress in our lives. There are things that are just out of our control. But what is in your control is how you support yourself to balance cortisol and stress in your life with tools at your disposal.
Cortisol is a primary stress hormone that is produced in the adrenal glands and is a huge part of your endocrine system. It does have benefits when it comes to improving cognitive function, getting outside your comfort zone, and increasing your alertness.
But when it becomes chronic, it can play a huge role in negatively impacting areas like regulating your stress response, blood pressure, inflammation, blood sugar, and sleep!
So let's talk about ways to help balance cortisol in the body so you can be in the driver's seat of what you can control!!
Stress management tools.
Life isn’t going to be without stress. But you how manage and work through it is in your control. Breathwork, having a gentle outlet for movement (taking rest days), journalling, talking to a friend/partner/therapist, or laughing (which suppresses cortisol and boosts endorphins!) are just a few ways to help manage stress so that it doesn't become chronic in the body. Having a few different stress management tools is helpful for a variety of situations.
Sleep is when your body rests and repairs, and there are generally lower cortisol levels. Cortisol naturally goes up in the morning so you can wake up, so if you don't get adequate or quality sleep, it will be even higher when you start the day. Shoot for 7-9 hours of quality sleep! And if you don't have an evening routine that supports that, that's a great place to start. Reducing screen time at night, avoid eating within a 1.5 hour before bed, and removing technology from the bedroom can help increase the quality sleep.
Hate to break it to you, but caffeine increases cortisol in the body. So if you already feel on edge, it probably won’t help. Not to mention if you have any anxious tendencies, caffeine can often exacerbate this feeling. Try to limit caffeine at least until after you have had a savory protein breakfast, or reach for lower caffeine options like Matcha or herbal tea. I used to be a huge coffee drinker, especially on an empty stomach. Here is more on my journey about a love relationship with coffee.
Getting sunlight in the morning, directly on your eyes (so no sunglasses, my friend) can help sync your circadian rhythms to support more energy in the day AND improve sleep at night. The eyes are link windows into your body, so you can signal to your internal system what time it is. Shooting for 10-15 minutes of sunlight within the first hour of waking is ideal! But this can also be used as a tool for a mid-day break when you need a quick reset.
Just pick one to get started and tackle it in a way that works for you!