There are several easy ways to lower cortisol production. This includes:
- Eliminate caffeine. The quickest way to reduce cortisol production is to stop drinking coffee. A 335 ml (12 oz.) cup of coffee contains 200 mg of caffeine, which increases blood cortisol levels by 30% in one hour and remains elevated for up to 18 hours after that. In contrast, drinking black tea causes a person’s cortisol levels to fall by nearly 50% after completing a stressful task.
- Sleep deeper and longer. The difference between getting six hours of sleep instead of the suggested eight hours over seven days can cause a 50% increase in cortisol levels. The body needs sufficient sleep to recover from the day’s stresses.
- Keep your blood sugar level stable. Reduce the consumption of processed food, especially refined carbohydrates and sugar. Eat regular, small meals.
- Meditate or listen to relaxation tapes or music. Research found that people who practiced meditation daily for four months reduced their cortisol levels by an average of 20%. Calming music can have an equally positive effect.
- Increase social connectivity. Research has found that social aggression and isolation lead to increased levels of cortisol that can trigger a cascade of mental health issues. Human bonds are vital to physical and mental health at all ages. Connectivity and physical touch cause a reduction in cortisol and an increase in oxytocin, also known as the love hormone that facilitates bonding and stronger relationships and causes a more positive attitude and less stress.
Being relaxed helps promote stability in moods and relationships. These aspects are extremely important in recovery from mental illness, both from the patient’s perspective and those supporting and caring for him or her.
In the next section, we look at why relaxation is so important.