Want to learn how to reduce stress hormones? You’re in the right place. Reducing chronically high stress hormones is sort of my life’s mission.
Stress is, well, stressful. Sometimes we even get stressed out about how much stress we’re under! (Speaking from experience here.)
But you don’t want to get caught up in that vicious cycle. Trust me.
Stress reduction shouldn’t be stressful!
Let’s talk about stress, what it is, and how to reduce stress hormones so we can enjoy more vibrant health.
What Is Stress?
Before we talk about how to reduce stress hormones, I always like to address the most important question:
What is stress?
Because once you understand what stress really is, it’s much easier to see exactly what you need to do to reduce it.
Stress is ANYTHING that raises your stress hormones (like cortisol and adrenaline).
This could be what we’d typically think of as stress–like rush-hour traffic–or something more subtle, like lack of sunlight. Nutrient deficiencies, emotional stress, under-eating, pain or injury–all of these things can raise our stress hormones.
What’s wrong with high stress hormones?
So what if your cortisol and adrenaline levels are high?
Actually, it’s a pretty big deal.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the side effects of chronically high stress hormone levels aren’t pretty:
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
That’s why it’s so important to learn healthy ways to cope with the stressors in your life.
Read on to find my five simple tips for how to reduce stress hormones:
How to Reduce Stress Hormones
If your stress hormones are too high, reducing them to normal levels is really just a matter of lifestyle factors.
No, you don’t have to go live in a monastery to be stress-free. Instead, find which areas may be giving you the most trouble and see if you can address those.
And if you have an area that’s stressing you out and there’s not much you can do about it (like maybe a difficult job you can’t leave yet, or an illness in the family), then it’s good to work on other areas you can control to make sure they aren’t adding to the problem.
1. Are you getting enough sunlight?
Being out in natural sunlight is something our bodies were born to do, but in today’s society we all end up indoors a lot more than nature intended.
Spending time in natural light is a great way to promote healthy neurotransmitter levels (aka improve your mood chemicals!), promote better sleep, help your body naturally produce vitamin D, reduce pain and so much more! (source)
All of these things add up to a healthier body and less stress.
2. Are you eating a balanced diet?
The body tends to be the least stressed on a balanced diet that provides your body with the energy and nutrients it needs to thrive.
In most cases, this means a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates (this balance will vary somewhat from person to person, but I recommend avoiding extreme diets that shun any of those three macronutrients).
Keep your diet as “real” as you reasonably can so that you’re getting plenty of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from your diet.
You also need to eat enough! An energy-deprived body is a stressed body.
Read more about this in my post about health and diet myths that are stressing your metabolism HERE.
3. Are you getting enough sleep?
Poor sleep habits are guaranteed to make your stress hormones go berserk. Just a couple nights of poor sleep can raise your cortisol levels (source), so imagine what you’re doing to your body when you’re constantly going to bed too late and denying your body time to rest!
Make sure you give yourself 7-9 hours of time to sleep every night (and if you have trouble sleeping, the other tips in this post can help with that, too–especially eating a balanced snack before bed).
4. Are you moving your body?
Just like we’re meant to spend some time outdoors, our bodies are also born to move. A healthy level of exercise can help normalize stress hormones like cortisol (source).
But since a lot of us are sitting, sitting, sitting (in the car, in front of the TV, at the work desk), it can take a little effort to include a little more movement in our lives.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of tweaking our lifestyle to naturally include more activity (read more in my post about painless ways to be more active HERE).
Exercise of any type can be great (strength-training and yoga are among my favorite choices), but don’t get caught up on the more-is-better bandwagon.
Exercise should make you feel fit and invigorated–not defeated and exhausted. Find the balance that works for you.
5. Are you laughing enough?
Laughter actually reduces cortisol levels! (source)
So spend some time with people who make you laugh, watch your favorite old sitcom, or read a book that tickles your funny bone.
It’s a great way to cope with stress and improve your overall health. Read more about the benefits of laughter HERE.
6. Are you exposed to too many toxins?
I’m a little shocked at how toxic chemicals have become such a huge part of modern life. And these toxins give your body a stressful load to deal with.
It’s true that we simply can’t avoid them all, but we can make small changes that add up.
If you want to learn more about how to reduce stress hormones and nourish your metabolic health, check out my book The Nourished Metabolism: A Balanced Guide to How Diet, Exercise and Stress Impact Your Metabolic Health.
I talk about the basics of avoiding stress, listening to your body, and living a balanced life that nourishes you from the inside out. See testimonials from readers here.
More Articles on Stress:
- Self-Care Tips to Reduce Your Stress (and a DIY Lip Scrub recipe)
- Eye-Opening Quotes About Stress, Health, and Wellness
- “Healthy” Habits That Are Stressing Your Metabolism
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Elizabeth is the founder and creative director at The Nourished Life. Her mission is to help people find a more balanced (less stressful!) approach to living a happy, healthy life. Read more about Elizabeth here.