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How To Manage Stress And Lower Cortisol – The Invisible Threat To Your Wellbeing

Keri Platt is a Health and Mindset Coach, Founder of KPH Coaching and leader in bio-individual body and mind health. Following a personal journey of profound healing Keri developed a highly successful coaching method, which has seen her clients from all over the world transform their lives.

 
Executive Contributor Keri Platt

Stress is a word we hear daily, an invisible force that shapes our actions, decisions, and even our health. From looming deadlines to personal challenges, stress seems to lurk around every corner. But what exactly happens inside our bodies when we experience stress? Enter cortisol, the primary hormone behind our stress responses.


Photo of meditating woman.

The hidden menace

In today's fast-paced world, stress has become an almost unavoidable part of our daily lives. Whether meeting tight deadlines, managing responsibilities, or navigating life's unexpected challenges, stress is a constant companion.


But what many people don't realise is the profound impact stress has on our bodies, primarily through the release of a hormone called cortisol. Often referred to as the hidden menace, cortisol plays a crucial role in our body's response to stress, yet its prolonged presence can silently undermine our health. So, what is the relationship between stress and cortisol, and how does this powerful hormone influence our well-being?


The role of cortisol

Cortisol, often dubbed the stress hormone, is produced by the adrenal glands on top of our kidneys. When we encounter a stressful situation, our body's fight-or-flight response is triggered, releasing cortisol into the bloodstream. This hormone is integral to various bodily functions, including regulating metabolism, reducing inflammation, and controlling blood sugar levels. In short, cortisol helps us manage and adapt to stress.


The good, the bad, and the cortisol

In small doses, cortisol is beneficial. It helps us stay alert and focused, giving us the energy to face challenges head-on. Imagine the burst of energy you feel during an important presentation or while navigating a critical conversation. Cortisol is at work, enhancing your performance.


However, problems arise when stress becomes chronic. Prolonged exposure to elevated cortisol levels can wreak havoc on our bodies and minds. Here’s a closer look at some of the adverse effects:


  • Immune System Suppression: Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, making us more susceptible to infections and illnesses.

  • Weight Gain: Elevated cortisol levels are linked to increased appetite and cravings for high-calorie foods, leading to weight gain, particularly around the abdomen.

  • Sleep Disturbances: Excess cortisol can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to insomnia and poor-quality sleep, further exacerbating stress levels.

  • Mood Swings and Mental Health Issues: High cortisol levels can contribute to mood swings, anxiety, depression, and even memory and concentration problems.

  • Cardiovascular Issues: Long-term stress and high cortisol levels are associated with hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.


Managing stress and cortisol levels

While stress is an unavoidable part of life, managing it effectively can mitigate its negative impact. Here are some strategies to keep cortisol levels in check:


  1. Regular Exercise: Physical activity is a natural stress reducer. It lowers cortisol levels and triggers the release of endorphins, the body's feel- good hormones.

  2. Mindfulness and Meditation: Research has shown that meditation can significantly reduce stress and cortisol levels. Meditation and yoga calm down your sympathetic nervous system and decrease emotional reactivity, stress, anxiety and depression.

  3. Healthy Diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains supports overall health and can help stabilise cortisol levels.

  4. Adequate Sleep: Prioritising good sleep hygiene is crucial. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to help your body recover and regulate cortisol production.

  5. Social Support: Connecting with friends, family, or support groups can provide emotional relief and reduce stress.

  6. Breathwork: Deep breathing is a technique for stress reduction that can be used anywhere. Like mindfulness-based practice, controlled breathing helps to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as ‘rest and digest’, which lowers cortisol levels.

  7. Time Management: Effective time management and setting realistic goals can reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed, lowering stress.


Embracing a balanced life

Understanding the connection between stress and cortisol is the first step toward better health. By recognizing the signs of chronic stress and implementing strategies to manage it, we can reduce the detrimental effects of cortisol and improve our overall well-being.


Remember, it’s not about eliminating stress, as that’s impossible. Instead, it’s about learning to navigate stress in a way that keeps it from controlling our lives. Embrace the journey toward a balanced life where cortisol works for you, not against you. Your body and mind will thank you.


Conclusion

In a world that demands constant performance and productivity, understanding and managing stress is crucial. Cortisol, while vital in small amounts, can become a silent saboteur when left unchecked. By adopting healthy lifestyle practices and prioritizing self-care, we can break free from the chains of chronic stress and lead more balanced, fulfilling lives.


Health and Mindset Coaching can help you make lifestyle and habit changes that unlock your health, wealth and happiness potential. Using personalized and scientifically proven tools and strategies to build the foundations of lasting change. Get in touch to find out more about how you can start to manage your stress, lower your cortisol and begin to thrive!


Follow me on Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

Read more from Keri Platt

 

Keri Platt, Health and Mindset Coach

Keri Platt is a Health and Mindset Coach, Founder of KPH Coaching and leader in bio-individual body and mind health. Following a personal journey of profound healing Keri developed a highly successful coaching method, which has seen her clients from all over the world transform their lives. Providing workshops and one to one coaching to private and corporate clients from CEO’s and celebrities to law firms, hedge funds and a global tech company. She is on a mission to empower people to take control of their health and happiness and unlock their full potential.

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