Easier said than done. In today’s world, cortisol production in the body is the result of chronic, ever-present stress. Cortisol increases our pulse rate, our blood pressure, and our tendency to put on belly fat. All very excellent reasons to manage our cortisol levels, but how?
Here’s the good news. Lowering cortisol is really as simple as learning to manage stress. Once you manage your stress with relaxation techniques, your cortisol levels immediately begin to drop back to a normal level. Here are a few techniques for you to try.
Laughter is the best medicine in the case of reducing cortisol. The mere act of smiling changes our body chemistry, and all-out laughter provides even more benefits. One woman suffered a back injury that resulted in uncontrolled nerve pain. One thing she did was to practice smiling in the mirror to help herself move beyond the pain by increasing endorphins and lowering cortisol levels. In the beginning she sat in front of a mirror and practiced smiling, despite the tears of pain running down her face. Over time, her “incurable” condition was cured. All because she believed in the body’s ability to heal itself. So the next time you are given a hard time for watching an endearing kitty, puppy, or baby fawn video on Facebook, tell yourself that you’re practicing your smiling and lowering your cortisol at the same time.
Speaking of animals, petting an animal and playing with a pet is an excellent way to lower cortisol levels. Just playing with and snuggling up to our pets, our bodies release powerful endorphins like oxytocin that make us feel good. Pet therapy is far more beneficial than people might think. To have a therapy dog visit someone in the hospital is often more powerful than a pain reliever.
Find a creative outlet. When we participate in creative activities, our bodies release endorphins, lowers cortisol, and generally makes us feel better. Our immune system benefits, as well as our cardiac system. Engaging in a creative activity, whether it is singing, dance, playing an instrument, painting, quilting, drawing, or woodworking, is one of the most overlooked stress busters out there.
Most people know that reducing stress is the point of all meditative activities like mindfulness, yoga, Tai-Chi, or qigong. And so is getting a massage, having healthy sex lives, and being part of a spiritual community.