Modern life comes with many stressors, from the neighbor’s barking dog, to work deadlines, and everything in between. When stress becomes chronic, it’s more than a nuisance. It becomes a detriment to your health and can negatively impact the metabolic processes that keep you functioning properly. A key part of stress and mental health is the hormone cortisol that’s found in everyone’s body.
While cortisol serves as a critical hormone within our bodies (it encourages us to flee from danger), chronic stress can lead to the persistent elevation of cortisol levels, which subsequently contributes to anxiety and other mental health concerns.
To combat the negative effects of anxiety and elevated cortisol, people need to embrace stress management techniques. These practices can improve human health by removing stress hormones and their undesirable effects and can reduce anxiety. Here are some of the top stress management techniques anyone can do with a little time and effort:
- Mindfulness practices, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises, can help reduce cortisol levels and promote relaxation. Regular mindfulness practice can improve stress responses and lower cortisol significantly.
- Regular exercise is a powerful stress reducer that lowers cortisol levels and releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. You can start walking, jogging, taking yoga classes, or start dancing to reap the benefits of exercise for managing stress and anxiety.
- A balanced diet, adequate sleep, and avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol intake are essential for stress management because they all promote certain hormonal responses. These lifestyle choices can help stabilize cortisol levels and support mental and physical wellbeing.
- Connecting with friends and loved ones can provide emotional support and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety that can drive health problems. Social relationships can help people through stressful times.
- Effective time management and setting realistic goals can reduce the pressure demanding bosses or children’s hectic schedules. Managing your time can prevent chronic stress and its corresponding impact on cortisol levels.
- Mental health professionals, such as therapists or psychiatrists, can provide therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or prescribe medications when necessary to manage anxiety disorders and bring them to levels that no longer negatively impact health.
- Engaging in hobbies and activities, such as woodworking, a sport, or knitting that bring joy and relaxation can counteract stress’s negative effects. Hobbies can take you away from the stress of a job and daily life, giving you a chance to reset your hormonal responses.
The effective integration of stress management techniques into our daily routines counteracts the adverse effects of cortisol on mental well-being. These routines could include using mindfulness, adhering to regular physical exercise, making prudent lifestyle choices, seeking out social support from friends or family, or taking steps to improve time management skills. In a contemporary world where stress is inescapable, stress management is an indispensable skill for safeguarding mental well-being and overall quality of life.
If you need deeper insights into the interplay between metabolism, stress, and overall health, then dive into the work of Dr. Brian Fertig as presented in his book, “Metabolism and Medicine.” Dr. Fertig’s book provides profound insights into the complex dynamics of these factors, offering valuable knowledge and strategies to optimize both physical and mental well-being. Dr. Fertig is a noted endocrinologist who helps people by investigating their various hormonal levels and providing them with expert care regimens.