How to Lower Cortisol

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Maintaining normal cortisol levels improves your health and well-being. If you want to achieve this, read my list of do's and don'ts below.

RELATED: Reducing Cortisol

In this article:

  1. What Is Cortisol?

  2. How to Know Your Cortisol Levels

  3. What to Do to Lower Cortisol Levels

  4. Things You Shouldn't Do

Do's and Don'ts in Achieving Normal Cortisol Levels


What Is Cortisol?

Sad mature woman gazing aside | How To Lower And Achieve Normal Cortisol Levels

Cortisol, the destructive primary stress hormone, affects many important processes in the body. It plays a role in:

  • Regulating sleep-wake cycles

  • Managing how the body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins

  • Reducing inflammation

  • Controlling blood pressure

High levels of cortisol in the body may lead to Cushing's syndrome. The symptoms include:

  • High blood pressure

  • Rapid weight gain in the face and belly

  • Frequent urination

  • Decreased sex drive

  • Flushed face

  • Muscle weakness

  • Increased thirst

  • Mood changes (feeling irritable or low)

  • Osteoporosis

  • Bruises or purple stretch marks appearing on the skin

Other conditions and symptoms of high cortisol levels are:

  • High blood pressure

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Fatigue

  • Impaired brain function

  • Infections

Cortisol is made by the outer adrenal gland. Growth hormone is an anti-aging hormone that opposes cortisol. As you age, this opposing hormone goes down and bottoms out when a person is about 50 years old. Growth hormone is inversely proportional to cortisol. Cortisol goes higher when it is unopposed or when there is nothing to push it down. Anything that helps increase the growth hormone helps lower cortisol.

Growth hormone is made by a gland in the pituitary and works with the liver. It is also activated when you sleep. If you can get more sleep, your cortisol naturally goes down. IGF or Fat Storing Hormone-like Growth Factor, a hormone produced by the liver, is similar to the growth hormone. IGF regulates the burning of fat and blood sugar as you sleep and when you are not eating. Even if you eat all day, it won't trigger the growth hormone unless you are sleeping well.


How to Know Your Cortisol Levels

If you're worried about having high levels of cortisol, it's best to see a doctor and get a blood test. The most common symptoms of high cortisol are similar to other diseases so it's crucial to rule out what is causing your symptoms.

Here are the tests a doctor might recommend:

  • Cortisol urine test

  • Cortisol blood test

  • Salivary cortisol levels test

  • CT scan or MRI

RELATED:Why Cortisol or Stress Never Turns Off


What to Do to Lower Cortisol Levels

Wet son and daughter draped in towel embracing by parents | How To Lower And Achieve Normal Cortisol Levels

1. Get Enough Sunlight

Regular sun exposure is a very good way to lower cortisol. If you go sunbathing on the beach, it relaxes you and helps manage your cortisol level. Bask regularly under the sun for at least six months.

2. Take Walks

Physical activity is great for your health and your mood. However, intense workouts can trigger cortisol release to cope with the additional post-exercise stress. Walking is the best exercise to lower cortisol.

3. Take Vitamin D3

When you take it, it has to be in daily doses of 10,000 IU. If you get about 15 to 20 minutes of sun every day, you're pretty much covered. Make sure you are also taking vitamin K2 with it. Try my D3 and K2 Vitamin that supports cardiovascular health, aids calcium metabolism, and promotes healthy cholesterol.

4. Try Acupressure

Acupressure can relieve your body from stress and improve your sleep.

5. Increase Potassium Intake

Increase your potassium to 4,700 mg daily. This is equivalent to 7 to 10 cups of vegetables a day.

6. Take Vitamin B1

You can also take vitamin B1 which you can get by taking nutritional yeast. Mix it with yogurt or with peanut butter.

7. Take Calcium Supplements

Take a little calcium before bed such as calcium citrate or calcium lactate. Do not take calcium carbonate because it is bad for you.

8. Sleep Well

Young Woman With Blanket Sleeping At Night In Bed | How To Lower And Achieve Normal Cortisol Levels

Your sleep hygiene can affect your cortisol levels. When sleep-deprived, cortisol concentrations in the bloodstream can spike. Pay attention to the amount and quality of your sleep. Try waking up at the same time every day to have a regular circadian rhythm. These tips help keep your cortisol levels to a normal range. If you need support for a healthy sleep cycle, try my Sleep Aid supplements.

9. Try Relaxation Techniques

Simple relaxation techniques can help manage stress. Even simple deep breathing can calm you down and help lower cortisol levels.

10. Get a Pet

There are studies suggesting that getting a pet can lower cortisol levels. In one study, researchers measured the cortisol levels of children on a standard medical procedure. The kids who had a dog present during the procedure had lower cortisol levels compared to those who did not. The same study also concluded that contact with a dog can regulate cortisol levels better than a friend during a stressful situation.

11. Have Good Personal Relationships

Having healthy and loving relationships with your family, friends, or a partner can help in keeping your daily stress to a minimum. Unhealthy, dysfunctional relationships, on the other hand, can cause a serious deal of stress, a spike in your cortisol level. One study showed that arguing with your partner can raise your cortisol levels. Another study concluded that children with a happy and secure family life have healthier levels of cortisol than those living with families in constant conflict.

12. Have a Healthy Diet

If you want to lower your cortisol level, I suggest that you eat healthy foods and watch your daily sugar intake. Here are some foods that can help stabilize your stress hormones:

  • Probiotics in foods containing soluble fiber

  • Dark chocolate

  • Bananas and pears

  • Black or green tea

  • Probiotics in food such as yogurt

  • Staying hydrated is just as important.

Tip: If you need more probiotics in your daily life, try my Probiotic Liquid.

13. Have Better Coping Mechanisms to Stress

If you want to have healthy cortisol levels, you have to reduce your overall stress. Some of the easiest ways to do this are to get out of stressful situations or having better ways to cope with stress. Recognizing and identifying your triggers can help in proactively managing stress and decrease anxiety, worry, and tension. Coping better with stressful situations and thoughts is important in keeping your cortisol levels stable.

14. Stay Positive and Have Fun

Keeping it light and fun can lead to a happier life. Being positive and happy is in fact linked with lower cortisol, lower blood pressure, having a healthy heart rate, and a strong immune system. Plan trips, go fishing, take hikes, invite friends over for a game night—find time to enjoy and do the things you love.


Things You Shouldn't Do

Couple argue and are not happy with each other | How To Lower And Achieve Normal Cortisol Levels

1. Don't Let Other People Stress You Out

You can't control other people's actions but you can control your own. If you have people around you who stress you out, it's best to avoid them altogether. Negative people can severely affect your stress.

2. Don't Drink Caffeine at Night

Since sleep is crucial in keeping your cortisol levels healthy, avoid drinking caffeinated beverages at night. These stimulants can make it hard for you to seize the zzz's.

3. Don't Say Yes to Everything

A key aspect of keeping healthy cortisol levels is keeping your stress in check. Saying yes to everything can blow up your daily to-dos and stress you out to the point of burn out. Learn to prioritize your own health by taking only tasks you know you can handle.

4. Don't Disregard Your Body's Stress Signals

If your body is telling you something isn't right, listen to it. Pause and take breaks from time to time. Your body can only do so much. Don't push it to its limits.

5. Don't Stay in a Job You Hate

If there's absolutely nothing to make up for the amount of stress you're getting at work, it best to look for another one. You don't need that kind of unhealthy, negative stress in your life.

Don't let this stress hormone get the best of you! Following my simple dos and don'ts can help maintain normal cortisol levels. You only have one life, try to enjoy it every day as much as you can.

Cortisol is a hormone released in response to stress, which can have various effects on the body, including weight gain and increased blood pressure. Understanding your body type is crucial in managing cortisol levels and overall health. Take this quiz to learn more about your body type and discover personalized strategies to optimize your well-being and stress management.

What are the things that stress you out lately? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

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