In this hectic, busy world, people often live in a state of constant stress. The continual running from activity to activity with little time left for sleep and just relaxing forces our bodies into triggering the “flight or fight response”. The flight or fight response is great when we are faced with life or death situations but is not so helpful when we are just trying to live our life. One of the things that happens when this response is triggered is we begin to produce cortisol.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is released by the adrenals when our body becomes stressed. Cortisol plays a role in regulating metabolism, blood sugar levels and impacts inflammation and the immune response. All of these processes are important in maintaining a healthy weight, meaning high cortisol levels can lead to weigh gain. Living with chronic high cortisol levels can also slow down your digestive system, make it difficult to sleep and increase feelings of anxiety and depression. Following are some ideas about how you can control your cortisol levels.
- Be mindful: Stay focused on one task at a time to decrease that harried, overwhelmed feeling.
- Exercise: Exercising has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Adding yoga, mindfulness and meditation to your life helps control stress.
- Stay connected to the ones you love: Relaxing with friends and family is important to control stress.
- Make time for your hobbies.
What are some of your favorite ways to reduce stress?