Life is challenging – there’s no way to sugar-coat that fact. Add on the fact that we went through a market crash and our investments have gone down the drain. Oh, and we have that Coronavirus thing that’s been going around the globe in case you didn’t know and were living under a rock that has caused people to stay at home and businesses to shut down and come to a screeching halt. All of these things increase our stress levels. And when stress levels increase, cortisol levels also increase. What is cortisol? Cortisol is the primary stress hormone found in our bodies.
The interesting thing about cortisol levels is that it’s not something you can necessarily detect. For instance, when cortisol levels are high, it’s not like you can pinpoint that as the reason you feel the way you do by running a test like you could with a blood pressure monitor to detect high blood pressure. Cortisol levels are more of an underlying condition that can easily go undetected. Now, that’s not to say there aren’t symptoms to look out for which could cause you to want to go get blood drawn to find out where your levels are at.
Some of the symptoms associated with high cortisol levels include:
Cortisol isn’t just something that comes and goes. In fact, we all have cortisol running through our bodies at all times. The only time things can go sideways is when we aren't able to properly manage the levels of cortisol and they become elevated.
Cortisol Imbalances Can Compromise Immunity
Have you ever been extremely stressed and the next thing you know, you don’t feel well? Maybe you feel like you caught a cold, you have the sniffles, or maybe you simply feel drained and exhausted? An increase in cortisol levels can weaken your immune system and cause not only bacteria and free radicals to do damage to your cells and increase your risk of illness but it can also increase inflammation in the body that can similarly cause you to get sick.
If you want to help maintain your health, it’s vital that you focus on better managing and optimizing your cortisol levels.
Optimize Cortisol Levels
While high cortisol levels can be problematic, you don’t want to completely eliminate all cortisol in the body as it does have some benefits such as helping with the fight or flight response as well as mobilizing fat to be used for fuel. What you want to be able to do is better optimize your cortisol levels to improve your overall health and wellbeing.
The most challenging part of this is trying to figure out ways to optimize your cortisol levels and bring them back down into a normal range. Each day, our cortisol levels fluctuate. For example, when you first wake up in the morning, your cortisol levels are at their highest. As the day goes on, your levels tend to drop and are about their lowest around midnight (right around bedtime). Normal cortisol levels, when measured through a blood test, should be between 6 and 23 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL).
How Can You Lower Your Levels?
There are several things you can do to better optimize your cortisol levels and bring them back to a normal range. Below are some of the most common tactics you can use and start implementing today.
1. Get More Sleep
Something most people fail to achieve is getting the recommended minimum of seven hours of sleep each night. Research has shown that those who are sleep deprived tend to have higher cortisol levels. Additionally, when cortisol levels are elevated, it can bring on insomnia. Those suffering from insomnia can even further increase their cortisol.
2. Find a Way to Relax
I know what you’re thinking – easier said than done. When we are consumed by stress, it’s difficult to relax and unwind. The key, however, is to figure out what helps you relax. One study has found that through the use of deep breathing techniques, you can help reduce cortisol levels by as much as 50%.
If sitting down in a quiet room and focusing on your breathing doesn’t sound exciting, maybe listening to calming music, doing yoga, or meditating is a better way for you do relax?
3. Exercise More
It should come as no surprise, but exercise is a great way to help manage stress and cortisol levels. Now, exercise itself can actually increase cortisol in the short-term but what researchers have found is that levels can more effectively decrease at night the days where you work out.
4. Eat Nutritious Foods and Unsweetened Beverages
The one vice of many is also what has been found to keep cortisol levels high – their sugar intake. Americans love their sugar. Rather than sulking in sugary sweetness when you are stressed (since many people reach for the sweets when they are stressed called emotional eating), consider reaching for more beneficial foods such as Greek yogurt and other foods that contain soluble fiber as they have been found to help lower cortisol.
In terms of beverages, water intake is especially important for overall proper hydration levels but something else to consider would be unsweetened green or black tea which can also help reduce cortisol.
5. Don’t Worry… Be Happy
Bobby McFerrin was onto something when he wrote the lyrics to his hit song, "Don't' Worry, Be Happy." While the song was written back in 1988, the words still ring true today. Those of us who can walk through life with a smile on our face and live happily have been shown to be able to decrease cortisol levels.
Sure, life will hand you some lemons, but your focus should be on turning those lemons into lemonade. Find a positive in every situation and don’t be afraid to laugh off the hard times. As with all things, whatever you are going through shall pass.
6. Utilize Specific Supplements
When all else fails or you want to speed up the process, find a quality supplement that can help you optimize your cortisol levels and effectively return them to a normal level. One such product is CortiSolve by MPA Supps. CortiSolve is considered a supreme cortisol optimizing agent that includes an extremely helpful and patented ingredient called SerinAid®.
There are many stressors we encounter throughout the day from work stress to home and relationship stress. All of these factors can decrease phospholipids in the body and cause cortisol levels to increase. MPA CortiSolve works by supplying the body with vital phospholipids and neurotransmitters, thus reducing the requirement for cortisol following strenuous physical or mental activity and supporting a healthy and optimal cortisol level.
Best of all, CortiSolve can be used by anyone from the avid exerciser, to the business professional, to the elite athlete, the retired man, and everyone in between. Help optimize your cortisol levels through the help of a product like MPA CortiSolve so you can rest better, perform better, and more importantly feel better.
Matt Weik, the owner of Weik Fitness, LLC, is a well-respected fitness expert/author with a global following. His work has been featured all over the globe as well as having published numerous books. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, personal trainer, and sports nutritionist. Find out more at www.weikfitness.com or on social media @weikfitness.