Cortisol Levels And Anxiety – The Ultimate Guide

May 6, 2017

“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 cortisolcortisol levels anxiety

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:

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9 comments on “Cortisol Levels And Anxiety – The Ultimate Guide

  1. Roman Ortega Mar 17, 2018

    Thank You!😎

  2. Jerry J. Jun 15, 2018

    No one ever talks about sensitivity to adrenaline and high cortisol levels. Many people who are hyper aware of their senses feel pain much easier. Knowing this is the key, but many don’t. Many feel pain from an adrenaline boost if it stays too long, and if not knowing what this is can cause many to fear fear itself/ aka panic attacks.

  3. Lost In NY Jun 16, 2018

    Hi Dennis.
    First off thank you so much for writing this well written article. What I find interesting is the fact that you included train commute as one of the causes of increase cortisol levels. I deal with this everyday living in NYC and it is 100 percent true. I find myself so stressed (after having a panic attack of some sort (or didnt eat enough) back in Sept 2017) and now 90 percent of the time when I ride home on the train I get so nervous that I would panick on the train or that I didnt eat enough food and I I he hit feel weird. I could be having a nice day but when it’s close to time to get ready to go home my stomach starts churning and I get this hunger feeling and I’m so alert. It forces me to often eat something light before leaving. I have to sit in the same spot every train ride as I feel like it’s my “safe zone” and it also allows me to look outside the window and no one to my left side. I get panicky when the train gets really packed or there are mechanical issues which forces the train to be still. I get tired after this and start yawning after I get off the train but then I feel fine once I see some sub light outside. Have many people come to you with the “train” issue? I just found it very interesting that you included that and happy I’m not alone. All of this has affected my ability to lose any type of weight and my a1c has gone up and now I’m prediabetic which I think it’s from the constant anxiety and elevated cortisol. Any suggestions? Thanks again for this article!!

    • Very welcome. I want to suggest that a few hours prior to stepping on the train you engage in a visualization session where you re-create the beginning, middle, and end process of the train ride. The only difference is that you visualize the process from the viewpoint of a perfect ride, no anxiety, and being completely focused on the positive things you can see, hear, feel etc of the external environment. As you physically get on the train focus on your breathing, think ‘low and slow’ meaning through your stomach area, and at a slower pace. These are just a few suggestions, when you begin the CBT program on this site it will take you much deeper into what would need to get done. Much love.

  4. Adrian Mar 11, 2020

    Thanks for the information. I also suffer from elevated levels of anxiety. It’s nice to see I’m not the only one.

    • Far from alone, much love.

    • Scott Jan 2, 2021

      You are for sure not alone. I hit burnout/mid life crisis back in August and am now dealing with bouts of anxiety. Not all the time, but periodically through out the day. Very odd, since I never dealt with it before. I have changed my eating habits. I’m on a low FODMAP diet, along with taking CBD to take the edge off. Not a believer in medication, although I know for some people it works. My biggest thing it a foggy brain…being unable to focus or concentrate. It is getting better, but this is where I believe that my anxiety comes in…also, believe I’m dealing with situational anxiety/depression. I’ll be praying for you all!!