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How Support Your Cortisol Levels in 6 Holistic Ways

Have you ever felt like you were at the end of your rope when it comes struggling with weight loss. Not being able to get out of bed in the morning or feeling like you have chronic fatigue. Maybe you are always having to drink Diet Cokes or coffee just to keep up with a simple day's work. You likely are struggling with regulating your cortisol levels. This can come in a variety of different signs of symptoms. Sugar cravings, insomnia, high blood pressure, acne, or development of bone disorders can also be signs that your cortisol levels are not where they should be. They are likely being spiked throughout the day due to different things in your foods or environment.

Because this is such a prevalent issue in my practice that I see with people, I have provided a quick overview of ways to help manage cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone that is secreted by the adrenal glands. Supporting stress will be your best friend when it come to controlling cortisol.

Ways to Control Your Cortisol Levels

Stress Relief

Controlling your stress is essential for cortisol control because you adrenal glands release cortisol when you are feeling stress. So when stress is down, so it cortisol. You may not think or feel stressed per se, but your body definitely received stress when you do things like having too much caffeine, feel like a victim, feel lonely and afraid in the back of your mind, and when other people make you feel uncomfortable. Of course, there are other triggers to stress as well but this really is dependent on the person and situation. Here are some tips to reducing stress daily:

Grounding outside - standing barefoot in the grass outside is scientifically proven to help with circadian rhythms and to help you de-stress. This is an easy and cheap way to destress daily.

Therapy - Therapy is great for stress because you can release your worries and anger into the world without having to hold on to it and keep it to yourself. Plus therapists are professionals with good insights and are the third party looking into your life from the outside.

Gratitude - Sharing gratitude is one of the best and healthiest practices you can have. When you practice gratitude every day, you start to stress less about the little things and it challenges you to have a positive mindset.

Journaling - Keeping a journal, whether it is a gratitude journal or a ranting journal for those who cannot afford to release their struggles to a therapist, is a great way to start your de-stress journey.

Friendship - Having life-giving friendships with quality people who are supportive and fun to be around is the stress reliever that I find most enjoyable. This is a good way to relieve stress if you are an extrovert. Feeling overwhelmed? Ask a friend to coffee or to go on a short walk. People are busy, but many want you to reach out to them, so go for it.

Boundaries - whether it is with friends, family, or significant others --- every needs to have some sort of boundary in their life. This is really meant to be a preventative measure for stress. If you have boundaries, you can avoid stress before it happen. Of course, things happen, but making social boundaries is important. Such as not over-sharing with others, keeping things in your marriage sacred, or just not always saying "yes" to everything anyone asks of you.

Blood sugar balance

Blood sugar spikes, especially in the morning, are one of the main causes of cortisol levels being higher than needed. Try skipping the sugary breakfast and Frappuccino from Starbucks. Instead, try adding more protein to your meals (20-30 gm of protein per meal), eaitng healthy fats like olive oil (or ghee, grass fed butter, tallow, etc), and eat carbohydrates that are slowly absorbed in the body (think sweet potatoes, fruit, sourdough, etc)

Not sure where to start when it comes to balancing your blood sugar? I have a free resource that you can sign up to receive here! I also am accepting new clients into my practice, depending on availability, here.

Vagus Nerve Support

Did you know that more than 90% of the signals your brain's neurotransmitters receives are from the gut?! These signals come through what is called the vagas nerve. It connects your brain and your gut (which is nicknamed you second brain for a reason). Supporting your vagas nerve can help with cortisol because of your nervous system is regulated, so will your adrenals and therefore, cortisol.

Things that help regulate the nervous system:

Contrast Showers (hot-cold therapy, i.e. sauna + cold plunge)

Diaphragmatic Breathing (deep breathing exercises)

Singing or Affirmations

Light Exposure

Another thing that affects your nervous system is light exposure. Getting enough sunlight and avoid too much blue light throughout the day and at night is important when it comes to having a regulates circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm helps with sleep, stress, and mood.

Being exposed daily to morning + afternoon sunlight are good ways to help set your circadian rhythms. Many studies have been done of the involvement of vitamin D that we get to the sun and how that is a precursor to serotonin and melatonin, helping with sleep and mood.

Lowering your blue light exposure is also important to regulating your circadian rhythms because sometimes when you are watching TV or videos on your phone at night, your body can become confused as to what time of day it is, raising cortisol levels and making you less sleepy before bed.

Optimizing Sleep

Building upon our last point, optimizing sleep is very important when it comes to cortisol levels. Poor sleep can send you into a cycle of being tired, having too much caffeine, not getting enough done throughout the day, and then staying up late your devices at night, all to re-start the process over and over again.

Red light therapy or using red light bulbs at night is a great way to help lower your blue and florescent light exposure, helping you to stay sleepy while the sun is going down and you are getting ready to go to bed.

It is also helpful to have some sort of bedtime routine. This is because having a good bedtime routine, such as skincare, sound machine, and sleeping in a dark and cool room can make or break your quality of sleep. It is also important to limit stress at night so that you are not disturbing your sleep. This is where having boundaries comes into play like I mentioned earlier. Having a hard time staying up answering emails that can wait until the next morning? Try putting your phone on Do Not Disturb after 6 or 7 pm.


Different mineral deficiencies such as a magnesium deficiency can keep your from getting quality sleep and can also be a trigger for stress. Most people these days have some sort of mineral deficiency without even realizing it.

Supplementing with things like adaptogens, like reishi mushrooms, that support relaxation, can also be beneficial for those who are looking to de-stress. Different herbs like Saint John's Wart and other supplements can also help with stress. Make sure that you check with your doctor and dietitian before trying new supplements, as many of these can interact with medication.

When it comes to supplementation, you want to make sure that you test don't guess! This basically means that when you are trying to determine what supplements you need, it is important to get a functional lab testing done that can tell you what vitamins or minerals that you might be deficient in that are keeping you from having good sleep, controlling stress, weight loss, etc. I offer functional labs testing packages here.

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