Since high cortisol levels are primarily caused by stress, the best way to keep them under control is to reduce stress and anxiety. This can be achieved in any number of ways, including minimizing daily tasks, meditation, exercise, spending time with loved ones, and sometimes prescription medication. Engaging in any activity you find enjoyable is a good way to reduce stress and in turn, lower cortisol levels to a healthy number.
Cortisol is a hormone released by the body during times of stress, fear, or anxiety. It is often triggered by the release of another hormone, adrenaline, which is the chemical responsible for speeding up heart rate in order to provide more oxygen to the muscles for a “fight or flight” response. This is a good process during times of danger because it gives the body extra strength with which to handle danger. In modern society, on the other hand, excessively elevated levels of cortisol and adrenaline can lead to health problems and extra body fat.
The most effective ways to treat high cortisol levels is to reduce the amount of stress felt by the body. In most individuals who are chronically stressed due to work demands, family problems, or other outside stressors, simply taking a day off to relax may do the trick. Learning new coping methods, like deep breathing, may also help to reduce stress on a day to day basis. Eating a healthy diet, making time for fun, and getting adequate rest at night are also good ways to reduce stress.
Those with certain anxiety disorders may have chronically higher than normal cortisol levels, and normal anti-stress activities may not be enough to alleviate feelings of anxiety. Prescription medications may be needed, as well as therapy or counseling to discuss any underlying issues. These methods can be combined with the aforementioned methods for maximum results.
Exercise is a good way to treat high cortisol levels in anyone, including those with anxiety disorders. Cardiovascular activity causes the body to release “feel good” hormones in the bloodstream called endorphins. These are invaluable at not only boosting mood while exercising, but for hours afterward. Those who work out daily have much lower incidences of depression, anxiety, and stress when compared to those who lead a sedentary lifestyle.
There are some medications which claim to lower high cortisol levels for the purpose of weight loss. Before taking them, you should discuss your concerns with a doctor to determine if they are a safe option for you. Be sure to disclose any medications and supplements you may be taking.