Is Cortisol Something You Can Target With Wellness Coaching
Wellness coaching can be a highly effective tool in combating stress. Clark et al. determined that six months of wellness coaching in 100 adults produced improvement in quality of life, perceived stress, and mood. Recall that the stress response is what sets the cascade of cortisol dysregulation. It is easy to suggest stress reduction strategies, but it is more difficult to implement them in daily life.A skilled wellness coach can help a client push past perceive life barriers to stress reduction and help their client discover and implement effective stress reduction strategies. Likewise, a skilled wellness coach can help a client improve sleep hygiene and optimize dietary intakes. These measures can help to reduce cortisol levels both acutely and long-term thereby reducing the potential for negative health consequences.
Add A Calming Supplement
A supplement designed to reduce symptoms of stress and help manage the ups and downs of cortisol and keep it stable over time could help you fall asleep. There are a few key ingredients to look for. The adaptogen ashwagandha can support healthy cortisol levels by helping your body manage stress. HUMs Calm Sweet Calmstress gummies contain ashwagandha and l-theanine, an amino acid that can relax the body for sleep and improve sleep quality.
The clinically studied amounts of Sensoril, a patented extract of ashwagandha, and L-theanine found in Calm Sweet Calm are a potent combination to help you relax and de-stress, explains Jennifer Martin-Biggers, PhD, MS, RDN, HUMs VP of scientific affairs and education. You can take them at any time of day to support cortisol fluctuations some people find the effects to be beneficial at night while others prefer it in the morning to prep for their day.
Exercise But Avoid Overdoing It
There is a delicate balance between exercise and cortisol levels. Moderate or vigorous exercise regularly and increasing daily movement can help to improve emotional resilience which can, in turn, reduce cortisol levels .However, engaging in repeated bouts of high-intensity activity with little to no recovery time in between can have the opposite effect and raise cortisol levels. While exercise is a powerful tool in stress management, it is important to prioritize recovery as well .
Also Check: How To Deal With High Cortisol Levels
How Does Cortisol Affect Sleep
The bodyâs melatonin and cortisol level normally follows a regular, 24-hour circadian rhythm or pattern. Melatonin eases you into sleepâand helps you stay asleepâwhile cortisol helps get you up and keep you awake.
Cortisol is normally at its highest level in the morning this morning cortisol is what helps get you out of bed in the morning. Cortisol levels then gradually drop as the day goes by.
Melatonin normally follows an opposite pattern, with its levels reaching a peak about 3 hours before you wake up. High melatonin levels throughout the night help keep you asleep. Melatonin levels then normally fall in the morning and afternoon and begin climbing again in the evening to get your body ready for sleep.
This regular, daily rhythm of cortisol and melatonin acts like a âclockâ that helps keep your body on a consistent schedule of when youâre asleep and when youâre awake. This schedule allows your body to carry out the right activitiesâlike burning sugar to provide energyâat the right time of the day or night.
But if your cortisol and/or melatonin levels arenât following the normal rhythm, this âclockâ will stop workingâand many of your bodyâs activities wonât happen when they should, and you may begin experiencing lower sleep quality or other sleep-related problems.
Manage Your Stress Levels
Stress is an unfortunate reality in everyday life. Managing your stress, and, in turn, your cortisol levels, can help keep you healthy.
finding a good exercise routine
practicing relaxation techniques, like breathing exercises
finding your outlets, like journaling or painting
talking with a trusted source
There is no perfect or right way to manage stress. Find what works for you and practice it as needed.
You May Like: Anti Estrogen Pills For Breast Cancer
Pinpoint Your Comfort Food Triggers
Try writing down what you eat in an effort to get a better idea of when you stress eat. “Keeping a food journal for a week can help you pinpoint the times where you indulge in comfort foods or when you make sensible, healthier choices,” says Balk. “If dinner before a big test or meeting tends to be fried ‘comfort food,’ it’s worthwhile to stop the cycle and replace that emotion with a healthier choice or receive consolation another way.”
Eat A Healthy Carb At Dinner
It might sound counterintuitive, but a small serving of a healthy carb at dinner like quinoa, brown rice, squash, or sweet potato can actually regulate blood sugar levels and help you have a better sleep. Cortisol and insulin have an inverse relationship, meaning when cortisol is high, insulin is low, so that healthy carb in the evening spikes your insulin and lowers your cortisol. This helps you to relax and prepare for bed and a restful sleep.
Also Check: Estrogen Dominance Diet Meal Plan
Conduct A Relaxing Bedtime Routine On A Nightly Basis
Bedtime routines aren’t just for babies. They can really help us prepare our bodies for sleep and allow us to relax and for those cortisol levels to lower.I love starting a bedtime routine with a bath for both children and adults alike. The reason why is that it’s relaxing, but also it helps to lower your body temperature. . Learn more about how your body temperature affects sleep from Tuck
While Were On The Subject How Does Screen
After your bath, make sure you’re avoiding screens for at least an hour. The reason? Blue and green light from the screens send the signal to our brains that it’s morning and then our bodies produce cortisol instead of melatonin.
I know that theres technology today that has the blue and green light blocker, but that still doesn’t give you an excuse to use technology because technology engages our brain and makes us wire. I would avoid it altogether at least for an hour.
Instead, what you can do is: read, do some meditation, do some stretching, have a little hanky-panky ). Whatever its going to take in order for you to relax. It’s worth it and you deserve that hour to unwind.
Also Check: Where To Place Estrogen Patch
Is Cortisol A Stress Hormone
Cortisol is widely known as the stress hormone. However, it has many important effects and functions throughout your body aside from regulating your bodys stress response.
Its also important to remember that, biologically speaking, there are multiple different kinds of stress, including:
- Acute stress: Acute stress happens when youre in sudden danger within a short period of time. For example, barely avoiding a car accident or being chased by an animal are situations that cause acute stress.
- Chronic stress: Chronic stress happens when you experience ongoing situations that cause frustration or anxiety. For example, having a difficult or frustrating job or having a chronic illness can cause chronic stress.
- Traumatic stress: Traumatic stress happens when you experience a life-threatening event that induces fear and a feeling of helplessness. For example, experiencing an extreme weather event, such as a tornado, or experiencing war or sexual assault can cause traumatic stress. In some cases, these events can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder .
Your body releases cortisol when you experience any of these types of stress.
Everyday Anxiety Vs Gad
An individual experiencing everyday anxiety will spend time worrying about a specific event, assignment, or task. Theyll also have trouble sleeping or concentrating during stressful times, and theyll experience physical aches and pains from specific situations.
An individual with GAD will experience ongoing general worry about vague, often imagined threats that interfere with daily life. Theyll also experience frequent trouble sleeping or concentrating and experience physical aches and pains for more than six months without a specific cause.
Also Check: Best Time To Take Testosterone Booster
Cortisol And Stress: The Basics
Cortisol is one of several hormones the body produces naturally. Cortisol levels do go up when youre stressed. But it doesnt deserve its bad rap.
Cortisol supports overall health, Dr. Lin says. It helps us wake up, gives us energy during the day and lowers at night to help us sleep and rest.
The problem arises when chronic stress keeps cortisol levels high for the long haul. High cortisol levels over weeks or months can lead to inflammation and a host of mental and physical health problems, from anxiety to weight gain to heart disease.
What Does It Mean If Your Cortisol B Result Is Too High
If your Cortisol B is high, you have an elevated Cortisol Awakening Response . This can be a result of an overactive HPA axis , ongoing job-related stress , glucose dysregulation, pain , and general depression . Neither the waking nor post-waking cortisol results correlated to Major Depressive Disorder, but the CAR calculation did.
It is really important to look at all four of these markers together and look at the free cortisol pattern throughout your day.
If all four levels are elevated you might have something called Cushings syndrome. Look at your 24hr Free Cortisol and Metabolized Cortisol levels to confirm this as they should also be elevated.
If your 24hr Free Cortisol and Metabolized Cortisol levels are also high:
High overall cortisol concentrations are typical of Cushings syndrome, but can also occur in severe depression and alcoholism and when cortisol or ACTH are given therapeutically. Some possible reasons:
a tumor of the adrenal gland
Pituitary gland issues
the ingestion of substances that raise cortisol levels, such as alcohol or caffeine
Why is too much cortisol a bad thing?
When chronically elevated, cortisol can have deleterious effects on weight, immune function, and chronic disease risk.
Potential ways to lower cortisol:
If you suspect that stress might be the root cause, be aware of your own stress levels and take steps to manage your stress.
You May Like: What Are The Best Testosterone Supplements
Concrete Steps For Morning Collection
Although, how you wake up seems to have no impact on the results , what you do next is important.
What it means to be awake: When you are awake, i.e., you are conscious: you know who and where you are you are in a state that is clearly different from when you were sleeping even though you may still feel tired.
Avoiding premature awakening: If you wake up in the night and plan to go back to sleep, do not begin sampling collect only when you are awake for the final time before you plan to get up for the day.
Refraining from dozing off: During this measurement, do not go back to sleep or doze off after your initial awakening. You can stay in the bed or get out of the bed but it’s best to stay awake during and after the saliva sampling period.
Symptoms Of And Myths About Anxiety
Many people conflate stress and anxiety, but theyre different. Websters defines anxiety as being uneasy, apprehensive or worried about what may happen, whereas stress is mental or emotional tension or strain characterized by feelings of anxiety, fear, etc. Stress can also be defined as not having the resources to complete a task, while anxiety is usually tied to a perceived threat, real or imagined. Stress may be alleviated by accomplishing the task, but anxiety sticks around, producing a host of physical and psychological symptoms.
You May Like: Lo Lo Estrogen Birth Control
Is Cortisol A Healthy Thing
Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It has many functions and helps the body deal with stressful situations. But when cortisol levels are too high, it can be harmful. It can damage the bodys organs and lead to obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Cortisol can also decrease the amount of sleep you get. And when levels are too low, you may experience symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, and depression. There are a number of ways to lower your cortisol levels in the morning. A few ways are to relax, avoid caffeine, and get a good nights sleep. Cortisol levels are highest in the morning, so its important to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and sugar in the morning. If youre struggling to get to sleep, try to get at least eight hours of sleep per night. Eating a balanced diet will also lower cortisol levels, as will avoiding processed foods and sugar.
Relieve Stress With Adaptogens
For thousands of years, practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda have used adaptogenic herbs ginseng, rhodiola, ashwagandha, eleuthero, and others to relieve stress.
Adaptogens can be a good way for some people to bring their cortisol back to a healthy pattern, says Trindade. Some are very well-researched and can make a big difference, no matter what type of adrenal issues youre dealing with.
Adaptogens not only reduce stress levels, but also help restore cortisol levels to their natural curve. These herbs support the adrenal and pituitary systems, helping them operate more efficiently. With those systems functioning properly, cortisol is more likely to be released when it should be, instead of spiking up and down.
Also Check: Signs Of Hormonal Imbalance In Men
Cultivate Good Sleep Hygiene 24/7
Prioritize good sleep hygiene all the time as it keeps your sleep debt low and your body clock in circadian alignment to combat excess cortisol the natural way. From perfecting the ideal sleep environment to cutting off your caffeine consumption, healthy, sleep-promoting behaviors help you get the hours of sleep you need for better energy during the day.
In particular, well-timed light exposure is of vital importance. Light is one of the most potent circadian cues that reset your internal clock. Expose yourself to bright natural light the moment you awake. Steer clear of artificial light sources in the few hours before bed. We recommend wearing blue-light blocking glasses before bedtime to protect your eyeballs from the wavelengths that dampen melatonin production. Doing so helps keep your circadian rhythm running smoothly and meet your sleep need more easily.
Strategic light exposure is only one of the many pieces to the puzzle of optimal sleep hygiene. Only when you have all the tabs in place will you be able to form the full picture of healthy sleep practices and their benefits. To learn the gamut of good sleep hygiene, check out our in-depth Sleep Guide.
Role Of Difference In Collection Time
Research shows inaccurate reporting of morning cortisol collection time is more common than realized. The recorded time is often late, and can impact the results.
Careful monitoring of actual wake up time versus self-reported time showed 1 in 5 people actually woke up earlier than what they had reported. This could be anywhere between 5 mins to 30 mins. For 1 in 7 people, this gap was over 30 minutes.
However, any difference over 15 minutes can cause significant variation in results.
Difference of 5 to 10 minutes at the beginning, right after breaking the sleep is likely not critical, since the rise in cortisol levels few minutes after waking up is still small.
But anything after first 15 minutes starts to have an impact due to steep rise in the levels at this time.
Researchers have identified multiple reasons why people collect their morning samples later than expected:
Avoiding the discomfort of collection.
Might need to prioritize other responsibilities.
Sleep inertia, being half-asleep without being fully mentally awake and no body movement. That makes it difficult to identify exact time of waking up, despite well-intentioned efforts.
Don’t Miss: Does Melatonin Put You To Sleep
Heres How To Lower Cortisol Levels
At Parsley Health, we work with our members everyday on lowering cortisol levels and reducing chronic stress. Since everyones lifestyle is different, and the stressors in your life arent the same as the stressors in, say, your best friends life, its important to come up with an action plan that is personalized to you and your lifestyle. Typically, this starts with addressing the root cause of your stress and making changes to your diet, exercise, supplement routine with the support of your Parsley Health clinician and health coach. Once your cortisol levels are restored, the goal is to help you understand the stress response, learn how to manage stress, and develop a consistent mindfulness practice so you have the tools to prevent future spikes.
Here are some of our top tips for lowering cortisol levels naturally:
Signs Of High Cortisol
Staying in a state of high stress is both physically and mentally unhealthy.
Sometimes its nearly impossible to avoid, like being in a highly stressful work environment, and it may be necessary for some people to seek low stress jobs as the only way out.
Understanding the signs of high cortisol levels can be important for knowing when to slow down and address the problems in our life that lead to chronic stress.
Avoid Or Limit Alcohol Intake When You’re Stressed
Because alcohol often puts people at ease and makes them feel relaxed, you might think that it has the ability to lower cortisol levels. In fact, the exact opposite is true. A study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that men who had just one drink a week saw a three percent rise in their cortisol levels, and those levels can be even higher if you’re under a tremendous amount of pressure.
“We see people using alcohol to help relax however, alcohol is a depressant. While yes, in the moment you may feel ‘better,’ alcohol causes several issues that appear later on,” says Amanda A. Kostro Miller, RD, who serves on the advisory board for Smart Healthy Living.
“Also, alcohol can also depress your mood. Couple a depressed mood with stress and you may find yourself in a terrible rut,” she adds. “Alcohol can also disrupt deep sleep, so not only will you be hungover after a night of drinking, but you may also feel sick and lack a good night’s sleep!”