If you live by the motto, “Moderation in Everything,” then cortisol is your poster child.
What is cortisol?
Cortisol is a naturally occurring hormone that your adrenal gland produces and, in small and well-timed doses, it is good for many things. Most famously, it is the jolt behind the “fight or flight” response you feel when threatened. Whether you are fighting or flying, your adrenal gland will pump up the cortisol to give you the extra energy you need to face the consequences.
When cortisol levels increase to high levels and stay there — which happens when you are regularly stressed out by work, love, or anything else — the symptoms are akin to an overdose. That’s why cortisol is called the “stress hormone,” as the Cleveland Clinic reports.
If you can’t relax long enough to let the cortisol drain from your system, you get cranky, irritable, and your sleep will probably be disrupted. Too much cortisol in your body affects your ability to process sugar by interfering with the natural insulin you produce. In addition to losing sleep and being crabby, you might gain weight and suffer an increase in inflammation in internal organs. Studies summarized by the National Institutes of Health show that blood pressure and cardiovascular events also increase.
If a blood test shows your cortisol levels are high, here is the lecture you can expect from your doctor:
- Exercise more. A walk, run, bike ride or swim helps keep cortisol and many other hormones and internal systems in balance. Speaking of balance, yoga, Tai Chi, and other exercises that calm the body and mind are also helpful.
- When your boss gets cranked up and you can feel your cortisol levels rising, take a minute to breathe deeply for a minute. Close your eyes if possible and concentrate for just 60 seconds on how you feel as your breath fills and then exits your lungs.
- Coffee contains cortisol. Stop drinking coffee. Or, at least, cut back if you drink it all day. (It’s that moderation thing again.)
- While you’re at it, consider your overall diet. Eat more whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and fish. Eat less red meat, processed food and sugar. Drinking too much alcohol is in the “don’t” category as well.
There are also products available that help reduce cortisol to safe levels, so that you feel better, get more sleep, and increase your ability to deal with people and circumstances that interfere with your peace.
NuEthix offers products that aid in reducing cortisol levels:
- Cort-Eaze delivers generous doses of products from nature that have been used for hundreds of years to reduce stress. It promotes healthy cortisol levels and helps push back fatigue and sleeplessness and promotes mental clarity.
- Estro-Cort may help cleanse the body of extra estrogen, which has been shown to be produced by high-levels of cortisol. Excess estrogen also promotes weight gain, another potential source of stress.
- Relax Liposomal supports healthy melatonin function, a natural relaxant. The liposomal formula protects the helpful ingredients as they travel through your gut, which in turn gives your body more time to absorb them.
- Ideal Immunity supports innate cells that promote a healthy stress response and adaptive cells that allow for healthy immune function. It’s easier to deal with stress when your immune system is working correctly.
No one can avoid stress entirely and in fact sometimes stress helps you meet a deadline or complete a difficult task. (Read this University of California article for more information about how short-term stress can be a benefit.) You’ll feel so much better about your accomplishments if you can let the stress go afterward — and not build up.
So make conscious decisions that will help you ward off stress, especially before bed. Here are some ideas:
- Finish your evening meal several hours before trying to go to sleep. A full stomach is more likely to keep you awake.
- Instead of a bowl of ice cream (and all that processed sugar) for dessert, consider some apple slices and just one cookie.
- Thirty minutes ahead of bedtime, put aside the game controls and turn off the TV news. Take deep breaths. Listen to music or read a book or unstressful online content.
- Drink a cup of herb tea, like chamomile.
- Infuse the air in your bedroom with the scent of an essential oil that you enjoy.
- Take two capsules of Cort-Eaze and 1-2 full droppers of Relax Liposomal 20-30 minute prior to bedtime.
- Fluff up the pillow and drift off to a full night of sleep.