“If We Allow Ourselves To Learn And Operate In Fear, It Creates Chaos And Havoc In Our Brains.”
Cortisol Levels And Anxiety – The ultimate guide
Cortisol is a chemical (hormone) released by the adrenal glands. Cortisol levels are vital for better overall health. It helps boost energy levels, increases focus, enhances memory functions, decreases pain sensitivity, and helps maintain body homeostasis during problematic times, thereby helping efficiently deal with anxiety and daily stresses of life.
It also functions as a stimulant and contributes to the ‘flight or fight’ response by constricting the blood vessels, quickening the heart beats, and tensing/tightening the muscles for better preparedness against threats.
It may however be noted that high cortisol levels are good only if it is higher than normal for just a short period of time. Prolonged instances of elevated cortisol levels can actually increase anxiety, sap energy, and cause a variety of health issues. Hence, it is important to maintain healthy levels of cortisol.
Adverse health effects of elevated cortisol
Some of the negative effects of high cortisol levels for long periods are listed below:
- Cortisol contributes to the management of blood glucose levels and responsiveness of cells to insulin secreted by the pancreas. Long term instances of high cortisol can increase insulin resistance in the body and thus eventually cause diabetes.
- Elevated cortisol levels are associated with the storage of fat, especially in the abdominal regions. This can lead to increased weight or obesity
- High levels of cortisol can result in occurrence of anxiety and other mental problems, especially in teens and young adults with genetic predisposition to anxiety or specific mental conditions.
- Long term high cortisol levels can inhibit and weaken the immune system response, thereby increasing vulnerability to anxiety, auto-immune conditions, arthritis, etc.
Causes of elevated levels of cortisol
Some of the common causes of high cortisol levels are listed below:
- Stress, sleeplessness, burnout
- Melatonin supplementation and hypoestrogenism in postmenopausal women can raise cortisol levels
- Long term elevated blood levels of cortisol may occur due to severe stressful events or trauma
- Excessive caffeine intake; chronic alcohol abuse
- Train commute can increase cortisol as per trip duration, effort taken, and predictability of the commute
- Anorexia nervosa; severe restriction of calories
How to lower cortisol levels and anxiety?
Below are some methods to naturally reduce cortisol levels and anxiety that I use daily in my 1 on 1 coaching sessions with clients:
- Regularly engage in physical activity. Moderate exercises on a regular basis can help alleviate stress, enhance overall health, reduce anxiety, and lower cortisol levels. Hiking, yoga, or workouts, etc. at least 3 times a week is recommended.
- Intake of a healthy and balanced diet with whole grains, proteins, fruits, veggies, and fiber, etc. can help regulate cortisol and anxiety. Also, Limit or quit caffeine and alcohol. Reduce intake of sugar.
- Loneliness and social isolation can increase anxiety, stress, depression, and aggression. Find different ways that can help begin and improve social contact and social connections. This will help reduce anxiety and cortisol levels.
- Meditation is a great stress buster. Meditating for just a few minutes per day can help decrease stress and anxiety and lower cortisol levels.
By creating a daily structured approach to lower your levels of cortisol you’ll find life beginning to feel less burdensomem and more enjoyable. This is the true path to overcoming any chronic anxiety challenges you may be going through.
Below You’ll Find A Very Powerful Audiobook On Managing Stress & Anxiety That I Know Will Help You In Your Journey. If You Enjoyed It Please Share With Others And Comment On YouTube: