Q:

How do you reduce cortisol levels?

A:

Quick Answer

To reduce cortisol levels, Prevention recommends managing chronic stress by meditating, getting extra sleep at night, incorporating small naps into the day, getting a full-body massage, and listening to calming music. Chewing gum and drinking black tea are also thought to activate the body's relaxation response and reduce stress.

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Full Answer

In addition to these techniques, Elizabeth Scott, M.S. for About.com suggests practicing yoga, learning effective breathing exercises, and having sex to unwind. Scott explains that cortisol is a useful hormone intended to improve the body's metabolism, strengthen the immune system, work with insulin to control blood glucose levels, control inflammation, and regulate blood pressure. The body also secretes it when a person endures high levels of stress because the body interprets this state as an emergency fight-or-flight circumstance and uses cortisol to minimize the sensation of pain, temporarily increase energy levels and improve cognitive functioning.

This stage is only meant to last for a short time until the body engages its relaxation response and restores homeostasis, according to Scott; however, in modern society, it is common for people to remain in a high-stress environment indefinitely, keeping cortisol levels engaged. When this occurs, people gain weight, suffer from high blood pressure, experience fatigue and mood swings, get sick more easily, develop thyroid imbalances, and lose bone density.

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