Getting your Cortisol Levels Under Control

Feeling slightly more stressed than usual? Experiencing unusual weight gain for no apparent reason, and seem to be more tired

It may be an indication that your cortisol levels are higher than usual. Cortisol is often referred to as our primary “stress hormone”, and is responsible for regulating a wide range of processes throughout our bodies, including; our immune response, hormone levels, and metabolism. 

Producing cortisol is a necessity of life as it keeps us awake, motivate and engaged in our environment on a day to day bases. However, when we experience abnormal levels of cortisol can be detrimental to our overall health and well-being, as they can lead to long-term health problems. 

So how do you know if you have high cortisol levels? If you feel you are experiencing any of the following ailments or symptoms, it may be an indication that your cortisol levels are higher than usual… 

  • Tired for no apparent reason 

  • Weight gain 

  • Muscle Weakness 

  • Anxiety

  • Sleep disorder

  • Back Pains & Headaches 

  • Mood Swings 
  • Irregular Periods or Cycles 

  • Hormonal Imbalances 

 

The great news is that there are many natural ways you can get your cortisol levels back in check! 

1. Switch to a Whole Food Diet

Consume a diet low in processed and artificial foods. The key to balancing hormones is to eat a balanced and nutritious diet. Aim to consume a diet which is high in antioxidants, fibre and protein, to help boost your energy levels, and help you sleep better at night. As a guideline, you should aim to eat the following food groups servings for a balanced diet: 

5 servings of vegetables per day

2 servings of whole fruit

6 servings of grains 

2 servings of protein - lean meats, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts 

2 servings of healthy fats 

 

2. Drink Up 

Being adequately hydrated will allow your body to function at its best. It is recommended that you consume 1.5 - 2 Litres per day, plus more if you are participating in exercise. 

 

3. Exercise Regularly and Steady 

Make sure you are incorporating high-intensity workouts and low-intensity workouts into your week. One of the best ways to manage stress and balance your hormones is to set aside 30 - 60 minutes, 3 - 4 days a week. 

Need some inspiration for High and Low-intensity workouts: 

High-Intensity Workouts

  • Running

  • Swimming 

  • Circuit Classes 

  • Spin Classes 

  • Boxing Classes 

Low-Intensity Workouts

  • Walking 

  • Yoga 

  • Pilates 

 

4. Stress Less & Meditate 

Meditation is about training our mind to be aware and getting a healthy sense of perspective and reduce those stress levels. The practice of meditation comes with numerous benefits including increased concentration levels, decreased anxiety and boosts our daily happiness. Aim to set some time aside each day for a short meditation practice - even 5 - 10 mins will make the world of difference to your headspace and stress levels. 

A few great mindfulness apps that you can download to your smartphone include

  • Smiling Mind 

  • Headspace 

  • Buddhify 

 

5. Sleep Deep 

Prioritising your sleep is key to optimal health and wellbeing. Ensure that you try and switch off all electronic devices before 9.30pm and aim to get approximately 8 – 8.5 hours of sleep each night. Sleep allows our bodies to recover from the day’s activities – recharging our heat and cardiovascular system, and additionally boost our immune system and heals. 

 

So with these few easy steps, you can ensure that your cortisol levels stay in check and under control. 

 

Allie Veall