Cortisol is commonly referred to as “the stress hormone.” This is because your body releases cortisol in response to stress – which is a good thing!

The problem with cortisol is when the levels remain high for extended periods of time.

What Causes High Cortisol Levels?

When you experience stress, your sympathetic nervous system gets revved up and your body releases cortisol as part of the fight or flight response. To your body, stress is stress. So whether you’re sitting in morning traffic or rushing to meet a work deadline, your body will react the same way.

In a threatening situation, your body needs cortisol to respond to threats. But when the threat is chronic stress from everyday life, cortisol levels stay elevated. This is because your body can’t determine if the danger is gone, so cortisol stays high, and your body stays charged up.

Signs of High Cortisol Levels

High cortisol levels are hard on your body. Here are some of the signs of elevated cortisol:

  • Weight gain
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Flushed skin
  • Headaches
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Decreased sex drive

Managing High Cortisol Levels

One way to manage high cortisol levels is to manage your stress levels. You may not be able to eliminate all sources of stress in your life, but you can get better at how you deal with it.

Create a bedtime routine.

One of the best ways to counteract your body’s sympathetic response is through your sleep habits. Getting regular quality sleep can bring down cortisol levels. If you struggle with getting a good night’s sleep, try creating a bedtime routine.

Get regular physical activity.

Exercise is a form of stress for your body which means cortisol will increase after exercise. And this is a normal response. By getting regular physical activity, your body learns how to manage physical stress and gives you an outlet to manage the stress occurring in your daily life.

Prioritize recovery days.

Another way to manage high cortisol levels is to prioritize recovery days. Your body needs physical activity, but it also needs rest. So making rest part of your training routine gives your body a chance to get some much-needed recovery time.

Take time to breathe.

Even the simple act of breathing can help your body deal with stress. Taking a few moments throughout the day to sit quietly and focus on your breathing can help you relax and manage stressful situations.

Do something fun!

Make time to do the things you love. Spend time with people who make you smile and laugh. A positive outlook and improved mood will lead to lower levels of stress throughout the day.

Are you ready to spend some time with a positive fitness community? Let some Rhapsody into your life. To learn more about Rhapsody Fitness in Charleston and our range of programs, get in touch with Team Rhapsody today.