When you’re stressed, your cortisol levels increase about 9 times.
If you struggle with headaches, sleeping, cravings for unhealthy foods, or controlling belly fat, your cortisol levels are too high. On the other hand, when you lack energy or an appetite, your cortisol levels could be too low. There is a sweet spot in the middle where you feel your best – and surprisingly, getting there can be a lot of fun.
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is a hormone your body produces to help you get moving when needed.
The ultimate conductor, cortisol, affects almost every organ and tissue in your body: controls the fuels you use, inflammation, blood pressure, blood sugar, and your sleep-wake cycle. (No wonder you feel awful when your cortisol levels are not balanced).
Created by your adrenal glands that sit on top of your kidneys, cortisol is very helpful when you need it, but too much or too little can be a problem.
Signs Your Cortisol Levels are Too Low
Similar to your car, if you demand too much of your adrenal glands for too long, it starts to give you trouble. Prolonged periods of high stress can disrupt the healthy function of the adrenal glands, causing disruptions in cortisol production. This is sometimes referred to as adrenal fatigue. Of note, in a widely-reported review study, which looked at cortisol levels in the saliva of a variety of participants, it was concluded that adrenal fatigue does not met the criteria to be called a disease. many people note these symptoms of low cortisol levels:
As the cause of these symptoms can include low iron, sleep issues, mental health issues, infections, autoimmune diseases, and more, consider looking into holistic strategies to better support your hectic pace of life and with professional help, seek any medical markers of disease.
12 Signs You Have Too Much Cortisol
Signs Your Cortisol Levels are Too High & What You Can Do About It
If you feel tired but wired, you probably are suffering from high cortisol levels. Luckily, there are many fun ways you can naturally lower your cortisol levels.
Let’s get crafty in the art room. A study found 45 minutes after making art a person’s cortisol levels are significantly lower. Relaxing, enjoyable, and free from constraints, making art is a creative way to naturally balance cortisol levels.
A dose of nature can lower your cortisol levels by an astounding 28%, says research. Japanese researchers have long advised spending 30 minutes in the woods to lower cortisol levels. Mounting evidence suggests even heading outside into any natural environment, even small ones such as your neighbourhood park, can help reduce stress.
Gardening can relieve stress, shows research. Take a half hour to pull weeds, prune bushes, and admire the flowers and the growing vegetables in your garden to effectively lower your cortisol levels, naturally.
In the gardening study, one group spent 30 minutes reading after a stressful experience. Reading can also naturally lower cortisol levels.
Escape and relax with toys, suggest researchers. Both transforming a page by adding bright colours, and designing incredible creations with building blocks significantly lowered stress in university students.
Laughter really is the best medicine. Whether it’s a good pun or an excellent punch line, whenever you laugh it suppresses cortisol, says science.
Reduction of cortisol levels and participant’s responses following art making. Art Ther (Alex) 2016 Apr 2; 33(2): 74-80.
Effect of increase in cortisol level due to stress in healthy young individuals on dynamic and static balance scores. North Clin Istanb 2018; 5(4): 295-301.
Nutrition as metabolic treatment for anxiety. Psychiatry 2021; 12: 598119.
Urban nature experiences reduce stress in the context of daily life based on salivary biomarkers. Front Psychol 2019 Apr 4.
Gardening promotes neuroendocrine and affective restoration from stress. J Health Psychol 2011 Jan;16(1):3-11.
Laughter therapy: a humor-induced hormonal intervention to reduce stress and anxiety. Curr Res Physiology 2021; 4:135-138.