Cortisol is naturally released in the body in response to stress. There isn’t a specific kind of stress that cortisol is related to, it can be anything from a traumatic accident to walking up a flight of stairs. High levels of Cortisol make it easy for the body to store fats, retain water, and lower immunity–you know that spare tire around your mid-section [I will begrudgingly call it the “pooch” as so many other do, but for whatever reason I HATE that word]? That could be because of high levels of Cortisol.
Some signs that you might have high Cortisol levels: w
- eight gain, moodiness, muscular or skeletal weakness, high blood pressure, blood-sugar issues, and problems sleeping.
I’m being extra careful to combat my stress right now. My partner and his ex are going through a custody dispute (no end in sight) and tensions are running high. This could explain why I’ve had a sinus infection for the past two weeks, just after recovering from a nasty bout of cold/flu, and why I’ve needed some help sleeping in the past month.
Prevention.com has a good article on cutting your Cortisol levels, you can read it here.
I have some of my own ways to deal with stress and the accompanying overdose of Cortisol:
1. Workout: I feel better when I workout, it’s a great way to get my mind off whatever it is that is bothering me.
2. Yoga: A different kind of strenuous from lifting and sprinting, Yoga has the ability to make me feel relaxed and refreshed. I love Yin Yoga for this reason and I find the temperature in a Hot Yoga studio to be very therapeutic.
3. Watch a “Safety” Show. Okay, so this isn’t the best solution, but I find that it does help me shake a mood. I define a safety show as a non-controversial show where the characters nearly always come out on top and the plot is mostly predictable. They do not challenge your views of the world in any way. Examples of good safety shows are: Gilmore Girls, Friends, Golden Girls, Alf, Saved by the Bell, Will & Grace, Full House, I Love Lucy, Leave It to Beaver, The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, Drop Dead Diva.
4. Go For a Tan. Okay, I know, you’re thinking it’s not the best choice to purposefully expose yourself to UV rays. I’m not telling you to turn yourself into a jerky; I’m suggesting going outside into the sun and lying out in the grass or on some sand, with no plans beyond doing just that.
5. Magnesium. I have an extra dose of magnesium with my supplement mix, it is supposed to help the body combat high Cortisol levels.
6. Fish Oils. I take liquid fish oils in the middle of the day (yes, they are extremely yucky), they too are supposed to help with symptoms of stress.
7. Boss naps. The Prevention.com article did mention sleep and napping as an effective way of lowering Cortisol, but I’ll reiterate. There is nothing like having a little cat nap in the middle of your day to make you feel refreshed. I’m not talking about a 3-hour tour kind of nap, just a 45 minute eyelid rest. Thomas Edison had a cot in his laboratory for these kind of occasions, maybe you should, too.