2020 has certainly been a year to test our cortisol levels.
With all the chaos, uncertainty and emotions this year has brought us, stress and mental health issues have gone through the roof.
We know how stress and cortisol can affect our health (raised blood pressure, suppressed immunity, impaired digestion and risk of serious disease).
And if you have an existing health condition (or you're going through menopause), imbalanced cortisol (low or high) can exacerbate your symptoms.
So if ever there was a time to prioritise balancing cortisol levels and managing our stress, it's NOW!
The good news is that if you commit to some self care practices, it's easy (and free!).
Just a few minutes of deep breathing from your belly helps to re-set your stress hormones. With one hand on your belly, inhale through the nose to a count of 5, pushing your belly up and breathing into the lower part of your lungs. As you breathe out for 5, slowly feel your belly fall. Do this 10 times, once or twice a day, or whenever you feel stressed.
2. Be Mindful
Silencing the chatter in your mind and being present (concentrating on the task in hand) – has huge benefits for your overall health. Mindfulness and meditation come in many forms, you can try mindful eating, walking, driving, commuting, travelling on a train, brushing teeth, whatever you’re doing works. Here is a simple 5 minute mindfulness track to get you started if you're new to it.
3. Do some Yoga
Yoga is not only great exercise, it's a huge stress reducer. The trick is to find a type of yoga that suits you. There are many styles and teachers so you need to shop around. The good news is that there's a huge amount of choice now we can do it online. Keep searching til you find the perfect one for you. One of my favourites is Yoga with Adriene but there are tons more.
4. Get out into nature
Getting outside into nature, getting some daylight, going for a walk, taking your shoes off and connecting with the ground – all great for reducing cortisol levels. Just 20 minutes in nature will lower your stress levels.
5. Do what you love
Music, dancing. painting, relaxation tapes, knitting, gardening, cooking, sex, Scrabble – whatever you love doing, do more of it!
6. Connect with others
Connection with other humans is one of our basic needs. Loneliness is one of the biggest emotional stressors there is. Whatever you do, make sure you connect with people every day (only the ones that uplift you!). Especially if you're on your own. If you can't see them in person, then book in a zoom call or talk on the phone.
7. Alone time
As well as staying connected with others, it's so important to connect with yourself too. Make sure you get some alone time, some space for yourself to take a rest, do what you love or just take a break from everyone and everything.
8. Read a book
When was the last time you relaxed with a good book? For me, it was on my last holiday. But reading is one of the easiest and fastest ways to balance your stress levels (and a great one to make you sleepy). Just six minutes a day has been shown to be effective!
9. Take time off
As many more of us are working from home these days, it's becoming harder to switch off. Make sure you still take your time off, even if you can't go away on holiday, it's so important to just take a break from your work environment (you'll be much more productive too!).
10. Manage your digital wellbeing
Technology and our addiction to it (I'm guilty of this!) is one of our biggest modern day stressors. Check out my interview with Laura Willis of Shine Offline for tips on how to manage your digital wellbeing.
And if you need help with your hormones (including cortisol), do get in touch and we can book in a free call.