Cortisol is the stress hormone and is the problem that leads to many other health problems. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.
Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear.
The long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including:
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
We are talking about elevated stress levels, but when stress level is normal and it’s balanced, cortisol helps the body to regulate blood pressure levels, immune system responses, inflammation, central nervous system performance etc.
Don’t worry, there are way that you can regulate and reduce cortisol in the body:
- Exercise- there is no health without exercise or any other kind of activities. Your body will reduce cortisol by releasing accumulated stress or sadness.
- Practice mindfulness or meditation- There’s a solution to any problem. “If you remain passive, thinking, ‘I can’t do anything about my problem’, your stress will get worse,” says Professor Cooper. “That feeling of loss of control is one of the main causes of stress and lack of wellbeing.”
The act of taking control is in itself empowering, and it’s a crucial part of finding a solution that satisfies you and not someone else.
- Connect with others
A good support network of colleagues, friends and family can ease your work troubles and help you see things in a different way.
“If you don’t connect with people, you won’t have support to turn to when you need help,” says Professor Cooper. The activities we do with friends help us relax. We often have a good laugh with them, which is an excellent stress reliever.
- Smile a little more
Laughing and not thinking anything are the best stress relievers, no matter in what situation you are, you can always smile it will always bring you some joy and attract some more happiness in your day.
- Listen to music
The soothing power of music is well-established. It has a unique link to our emotions, so can be an extremely effective stress management tool. Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies, especially slow, quiet classical music. This type of music can have a beneficial effect on our physiological functions, slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the levels of stress hormones. As music can absorb our attention, it acts as a distraction at the same time it helps to explore emotions. This means it can be a great aid to meditation, helping to prevent the mind wandering.
- Eat healthier
Don’t rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as your ways of coping. We call this avoidance behavior, women are better at seeking support from their social circle.”
Over the long term, these crutches won’t solve your problems. They’ll just create new ones. “It’s like putting your head in the sand,” says Professor Cooper. “It might provide temporary relief, but it won’t make the problems disappear. You need to tackle the cause of your stress.
- Sleep more and sleep better
This one is relatively simple to explain. Not getting adequate sleep (7 to 9 hours a night) produces a systematically negative response from the body. We’re prone to cognitive impairment and are more reactive to the environment around us – both things are very bad for stress.