Stress is unavoidable in today's modern, fast-paced and uncertain world - a concern for us all as it impacts both our physical and mental health if left untreated.
Short-term exposure to stress can suppress your immune system, increase inflammation, disrupt sleep, cause fatigue, increase appetite, create blood sugar problems, and increase abdominal fat.
Prolonged periods of stress, or chronic stress, can lead to physical symptoms such as digestive issues, autoimmune conditions, depression, anxiety and disease.
Try lowering your cortisol levels with these eight simple tips.
Start your morning with a Matcha
Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
Stress causes inflammation in our body, so eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce this impact. In addition, nourish your body with plant-based foods, lean proteins, healthy fats and support your diet with good supplements such as turmeric, ginger, vitamin C and probiotics.
Swap intense workouts for gentle exercise
Exercise and physical activity produce endorphins – your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, which make you feel on top of the world after a workout. However, exercise also causes stress and strain on the body, so the length and intensity of your workouts can significantly impact your cortisol levels. Try swapping a couple of your high-intensity workouts for gentler forms of exercise, such as yoga. These days my exercise regime consists of walking, pilates and yoga.
Optimise rest + recovery
To reduce your cortisol levels after exercise, it's important you prioritise enough time for your body to rest and repair Listen to your body and allow it the chance to recover properly before your next workout.
For complete recovery, you need to consider the quality of your diet as well as your lifestyle.
Diet is very important, as the body's nutritional needs increase under stress. Things like eating the wrong type of carbs, taking stimulants or not eating enough protein can further stress the body.
Eat the right protein
To support your body's repair process, it's essential that you're eating a sufficient amount of protein. Studies show that protein plays a vital role in keeping our immune system healthy and preventing the development of immune and inflammatory diseases.
Protein also has a stabilising effect on blood sugar. High-stress levels can lead to hypoglycaemia or other blood sugar imbalances.
Increasing protein intake can boost energy levels, reduce jitteriness, agitation and mood swings, improve sleep, and sharpen brain function.
Good protein sources include fish, organic chicken, grass-fed meats, cultured natural yoghurt, organic eggs, seeds, nuts, nut butter and milk, quinoa, hummus, tahini, tempeh, green peas and Healthy Chef Protein.
Mediation is an effective tool to calm your mind and clear away the information overload that builds up and contributes to our stress. Some forms of meditation are guided meditation, mindfulness meditation, Qi gong, Tai chi, focused breathing, and yoga.
Switch off your devices and unplug from technology. This can be a difficult one for most people, myself included. However, unplugging is one that can have the greatest impact as we use our devices every day.
The constant texts, emails, phone calls, dings and notifications from our devices release cortisol by keeping our brains on "high alert" and increase our feelings of distraction.
Try turning off your notifications or only checking your phone at scheduled times during the day to reduce distraction. If you're heading on holiday, why not try a total digital detox?
Get enough sleep
Research has shown that our adrenal glands recover best when we go to bed between 9 and 10 pm. This will also help you avoid a late evening cortisol spike, making it harder to get to sleep and sleep soundly.