Cortisol gets a bad rap. It shouldn't. It isn’t a villain.
It's our main stress hormone, created by our adrenal glands at the top of our kidneys. It tells our body that we need to prepare for some form of impending issue.
In fact, cortisol helps our body to:
> Manage the use of carbs, fats and proteins.
> Regulate blood pressure.
> Increase blood sugar.
> Boost our energy.
> Oversee inflammation.
> Control our sleep and wake cycle.
So why do people think cortisol's bad for us?
See, when we're stressed, cortisol steps in to curb any functions that our body deems nonessential, or harmful -- so we can direct our energy where we need it most.
This explains why, when we're stressed, so many of us lose appetite (digestive system), libido (reproductive system), or get ill (immune system).
Until relatively recently in human evolution, stress was pretty short-lived. However, in 2023, it's becoming all the more common to remain stressed for prolonged periods of time.
Studies (and life experience) highlight how elongated periods of stress lead to a whole hose of nasty implications in our daily lives -- from heart disease, to insomnia, to fatigue and weight gain (Thau, 2021; Hannibal, 2014).
But the story of cortisol has two sides. It also helps us:
> Create memories
> Wake up
> Feel alert
> Improve metabolism.
Essentially, it’s about balance. Too much, or too little, of cortisol, and we’ve got ourselves a problem.
We’re looking for Goldilocks level hormones around these parts, that's the ideal. Somewhere in the middle.
To increase the likelihood of a healthy cortisol balance, there are 3 things that you can do.
Exercise To Lower Cortisol
Duh. Our bodies use cortisol as a means to aid us as we push through a difficult workout. Afterall, training is simply a 'good' stress that we put our bodies under.
Once we've finished training, after about 15 minutes, our cortisol level begins to drop. Essentially, when we train, we use the stress hormone for the purpose it's designed for.
When we're having a tense day, moving our body (intensely or otherwise) helps to rebalance your hormones (ADAA), whilst also having the converse effect of releasing pleasant endorphins to make you feel good, to boot.
Mindfulness, does it work?
Yeah. In recent years, countless gigabytes of space have been taken up by talk about mindfulness. But it's not just a buzz word, there's genuine evidence that shows how taking a step back (figuratively, maybe literally) and dialling up our awareness can improve our cortisol levels (UC Davis, 2013).
Whether it's meditation, breathing exercises, visualisation, journaling or something else, anything that allows us to focus on the present rather than worrying about the past or fretting about the future is a great way to stride towards balance.
“Simply taking a few deep breaths sends a signal within your nervous system to slow heart rate, lower blood pressure and decrease cortisol,” as endocrinologist Dr Yasmin Akunji says.
Don't expect the body to know it needs to calm down. Send it signals to prompt it to do so.
Bolster Your Internals
Our last recommendation is to try ZAAG. The 29 vitamins, nootropics and adaptogens help our body balance our cortisol levels by boosting the immune system and steadying energy levels.
We know, maintaining balance can be harder than it looks. That’s why we removed the wellness admin of supplementation.
No more pills, no more water. Just everything you need and nothing you don’t.