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Keep Calm and Lower Your Cortisol Levels

By Chris Brown

A key component of our survival instinct, cortisol is the hormone that gives people the strength and stamina to escape from danger. However, in this modern world, many people are in a constant state of cortisol stimulation. Chronically high cortisol levels can equal health problems and put people at risk of an early death. There are a number of reasons why you should keep calm throughout the day, to lower your circulating cortisol, and what happens over time if you don't.

What Is Cortisol and How Does It Get to Chronically High Levels?

In itself, cortisol isn't bad. It plays a vital bodily role in providing energy and focusing one's attention throughout the day. If a fight-or-flight situation arises, cortisol works with adrenaline to boost energy further and temporarily enhance brain power for survival. Cortisol only becomes a negative for the body when it remains at a chronically elevated level for periods outside of the natural bodily rhythm. This occurs frequently as it is common in the modern world to face stressors that are less physical. Our bodies respond to these stressors in the same way as physical ones, by releasing cortisol, but intangible problems unfortunately cannot often be fought off with increased stamina. Therefore, the problems remain, along with elevated cortisol levels.

Why Are Chronically High Cortisol Levels Bad?

The body is not designed for long-term stress and chronically high cortisol levels put strain on it. This can lead to problems of wear such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, weakened immune system, fatigue, and impaired cognition. Since cortisol is naturally present in dangerous scenarios that require heavy energy use, it also increases hunger levels which can lead to binge eating and weight gain. These negatives are minimal, though, when compared to chronic stress's possible correlation with early death, as was found in a 2014 study of 1,300 men. On the positive side, changes can be made starting today to eliminate the risks of long-term stress and cortisol.

How Do I Reduce My Chronic Cortisol Levels?

When it comes to reducing chronically high cortisol, it comes down to bringing your body out of an agitated, anxious state. Tips such as getting more sleep, meditating, visiting the chiropractor, and identifying stressful thinking are geared toward mentally preventing your body from entering a stressful, cortisol-releasing state. Ironically, being overly concerned about cortisol levels can lead to higher stress itself. So it is important to view lowering cortisol as a process, not an immediate fix. Chronic cortisol effects happen over the long-term, and any single agitated state will not cause immediate damage.       

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Owings Mills, Md.

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