When your adrenal glands are producing too much cortisol it can make you feel tired, stressed out, fat, irritable and wound up.
You can spend you life feeling exhausted all day, and then wide awake at night when you should be sleeping. Your memory and concentration can be impaired and can feel like you have ‘brain fog’. You may find that you are keeping yourself going all day on caffeine and sugar, and then using wine or sedative medication to unwind.
Having a high level of cortisol not only makes you feel bad, but affects your body physiologically. It puts you more at risk for insulin resistance, obesity, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol, and affects your digestive functioning.
For most of us it is not possible to LOWER the stress in our lives, instead we have to learn how to MANAGE the stress in a better way.
There are ways to manage your stress lower your cortisol that will make you feel more energized and healthier.
Nadi Shodhan (alternate nostril breathing)
Nadi Shodhana, or “alternate nostril breathing,” is a simple yet powerful technique that settles the mind, body, and emotions. You can use it to quiet your mind before beginning a meditation practice, and it is particularly helpful to ease racing thoughts if you are experiencing anxiety, stress, or having trouble falling asleep.
- Take a comfortable and tall seat, making sure your spine is straight and your heart is open.
- Relax your left palm comfortably into your lap and bring your right hand just in front of your face.
- With your right hand, bring your pointer finger and middle finger to rest between your eyebrows, lightly using them as an anchor. The fingers we’ll be actively using are the thumb and ring finger.
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out through your nose.
- Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through the left nostril slowly and steadily.
- Close the left nostril with your ring finger so both nostrils are held closed; retain your breath at the top of the inhale for a brief pause.
- Open your right nostril and release the breath slowly through the right side; pause briefly at the bottom of the exhale.
- Inhale through the right side slowly.
- Hold both nostrils closed (with ring finger and thumb).
- Open your left nostril and release breath slowly through the left side. Pause briefly at the bottom.
- Repeat 5-10 cycles, allowing your mind to follow your inhales and exhales.
- Steps 5-9 represent one complete cycle of alternate nostril breathing. If you’re moving through the sequence slowly, one cycle should take you about 30-40 seconds. Move through 5-10 cycles when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or in need of a reset button.
Cut sugar out of your life
Sugar causes spikes in insulin which in turn spikes cortisol and adrenaline. Cutting out sugar from your diet will massively improve this and help to keep cortisol steady. Having a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, and protein with every meal will also help steady your blood sugars.
We cannot always do anything to reduce the stress in our lives, but often increasing the pleasure in life can counteract this. Laugh often, watch your favourite comedy TV show (I particularly like Modern Family and you can never beat re-runs of Friends), see actual friends, take long walks and bubble baths….whatever makes you happy.
Ashwarganda and chamomile, magnesium and B vitamins are all important for healthy adrenal glands. Camomile is relaxing and best taken at night.
Feelings of gratitude reduce feelings of fear and stress. It is important to have a gratitude practice and I have found it so helpful in managing my emotions. Tony Robbins says we should start with something small to be grateful for like a good cup of tea, the roof over our heads, because if we are always looking for something big to appreciate like holidays, or bonuses, we will lose perspective of the other little things that are good for us too. 3 things morning and evening are a good start, either written down or just noted to yourself or said out loud.