20 Ways to Lower Cortisol Levels Naturally
By Ali Kuoppala | Last reviewed Tue 25 September 2018
Medical Review by Dr. Stefano Pizzo, MD
Stressed out? You probably need to lower cortisol levels in your body.
Bad news, your higher than normal stress levels are effecting more than your relationships and sleep patterns.
This is due to your principal stress hormone – cortisol.
Cortisol and Testosterone
Cortisol levels are inversely proportional to testosterone levels. Man or woman, lower than average testosterone levels are detrimental to your health.
With low testosterone levels you may find that you are fatter, more depressed, and less likely to engage in sexual activities.
Low testosterone levels can be caused by a lot of different factors, but an extremely common cause of low testosterone is high cortisol.
How Can I Naturally Lower Cortisol Levels in My Body?
Here is a long list of easy ways you can naturally lower cortisol levels today, so that you can enjoy the benefits of higher testosterone as soon as possible. If these lifestyle changes aren’t quite doing the trick, try my suggested four best cortisol suppressing supplements.
1. Stop Endurance Training
Working out is a fantastic way to increase testosterone levels, and therefore lower cortisol levels, but there are certainly ways of training that cause cortisol levels to skyrocket.
In terms of cortisol, endurance training results in the opposite of what you want.
This study looked at cortisol levels of ultra-marathoners and found that after competing there was an immediate 30% spike in cortisol levels.
2. Don’t Over-train
One reaches a point where testosterone actually plummets and cortisol rises because of the stress your body is going through.
Many athletes that desire more training will take anabolic steroids to counteract the rising cortisol levels, steroids bring with them a slew of unwanted side effects.
Know your limits and recognize the signs. If you are training a lot and start to lose the “Morning Wood” that is a sign of overtraining and plummeting testosterone. If this happens you need to work to naturally lower cortisol levels immediately if you don’t want your testosterone to suffer.
3. Be Cautious With the Gym
The gym is a great tool for pro-testosterone workouts.
Be careful if you suspect that you already have elevated cortisol (which many of you reading this list most likely do).
According to this study, working out in the gym can accentuate the effects of already elevated cortisol levels.
4. Don’t Overdose on Caffeine
Everyone (including me) loves that morning coffee.
Some people, however, love it TOO MUCH and may be prone to overdosing on caffeine.
While the positive effects of coffee pre-workout should be noted (a testosterone increase of 12-19%), according to one study for example, ingesting 800mg of caffeine pre-workout can cause a cortisol spike of 44%.
Yes, 800mg of caffeine is a lot, but before you discount this point as extreme, there are more ways to get caffeine than just drinking a cup of coffee.
I can think of a few people that chug a couple coffees in the morning (200mg each) then take a caffeine pill (200mg) then take a 5 hour energy (242mg) then go workout (not to mention get behind the wheel of a car).
Be careful out there.
5. Watch Comedies
Thank you, Michael Scott.
Studies show that watching a comedy movie or TV show can lower cortisol levels.
In this study from the Loma Linda University School of Medicine tested cortisol levels of two groups – one that watched a 60 minute comedy movie and one that watched nothing.
After the hour, cortisol levels had reduced significantly in the comedy group with no change in the control.
6. Supplement Vitamin C
It has been found to significantly reduce cortisol levels in both humans and rodents in many different studies.
One with real-world application is this study, where groups were given a supplement of Vitamin C before a public speaking presentation.
When tested against a control, results showed that Vitamin C blunts the stress-induced cortisol spike of public speaking.
7. Get Some Sleep
Sleep, sleep, and more sleep.
But it should probably go without saying that sleeping also significantly lowers cortisol levels which reduces stress.
The thing to focus on here that may be different from the obvious is that missing sleep can actually raise your cortisol levels according to this study.
When you are getting enough sleep, your cortisol lowers, and when you are not getting enough sleep, your cortisol rises. It doesn’t seem like there is much in between there.
So make sure you are a cortisol-lowering type of sleeper. A good way to tell if you are getting enough sleep is making sure you don’t need an alarm to wake up.
You should be able to wake up naturally every morning.
8. Take Rhodiola Rosea
This is one of those seemingly magic herbs that does wonders to the human body.
That’s one in the column for natural medicine.
9. Chill Out
Relaxation is one of the best ways to lower cortisol.
Just take a chill pill – especially after exercise.
According to this study, meditation can significantly blunt the cortisol spikes of certain types of training. Not only that, but results showed increases in both testosterone and growth hormone after post-training meditation.
10. Stand Tall
If you stand more confidently, research shows that you will indeed become more confident and testosterone levels will rise.
In this extremely famous Harvard study, researchers found that standing in a dominant pose for just 2 minutes can decrease cortisol levels by 25% while raising testosterone levels by 20%.
Try a power pose right now. Stand with wide legs and your arms straight out in the air (think Vitruvian man) for just two minutes.
Add this to your daily routine and witness the effects of a 2 minute supplement of confidence.
11. Make a De-stress Playlist
Many people already use music as a relaxation device, but not too many people know that a good pro-relaxation playlist can actually lower cortisol by 66%. (2)
This next study is pretty funny.
When doctors at Japan’s Osaka Medical Center began to play relaxing music in their operating rooms during colonoscopies, cortisol levels in patients significantly reduced when tested against quiet colonoscopies.
If music can keep you relaxed during a colonoscopy, then music can do anything.
12. Drink Black Tea
Instead of your fourth cup of coffee, try sipping some black tea.
In a University College London study, subjects were asked to complete a stressful task, then sip some black tea.
13. Go to Church
Or Temple, or Meditation, or your choice of spiritual experience. According to University of Mississippi researchers, partaking in regular spiritual practices can lower cortisol secretion by 25%.
If you were looking for an excuse to push you back into going to practice your religion, how about lowering stress levels?
14. Chew Some Gum
This is a pretty easy way to marginally lower cortisol levels
Next time you are stressed, start chewing a piece of gum.
According to a study by Northumbria University in the UK, chewing gum after experiencing moderate stress can reduce cortisol by 12-19%.
Chewing gum has also been found to increase blood flow and neural activity. Just try to find a healthier brand than Hubba Bubba.
As far as I found, flavor was not a contributing factor.
15. Stay Social
Research shows that social connectivity can significantly reduce cortisol levels and is crucial for development in adolescence.
Social aggression and isolation led to higher cortisol in rodent studies. The mice during the study who were isolated also began to experience serious mental health problems due to the cortisol spikes. The mental health issues were especially pronounced in adolescent mice.
16. Drink Enough Water
Everyone knows that they should be drinking more water, and here is another reason why.
When properly hydrated, cortisol levels were noticeably lower in male runners pre-exercise according to this study.
The study also found that effects of hydration state on cortisol are dependent on exercise intensity.
17. Have Sex
I don’t think much convincing will be required for this point.
The physical activity and bodily contact involved in sexual intercourse have been found to decrease cortisol and increase testosterone. Not only that, but sex also reduces your risk for disease and stroke.
Go get freaky my friends!
18. Get a Dog
Ever wonder why therapy dogs show up on college campuses during finals week?
So while the dog barking may seem to stress you out, if you regularly play with animals, you can enjoy a regular slice to your cortisol.
19. Eat These Foods
Each of these foods has individual benefits towards reducing cortisol.
- Wild Salmon
- Dark Chocolate
- Chamomile Tea
- Olive Oil
Add each of these to your diet to enjoy a low-cortisol lifestyle.
20. Read TestShock
Once your body is producing healthy levels of testosterone by itself, it won’t produce as much cortisol.
Yes, you can do this naturally.
In the Testshock Program you can read about the ways to produce testosterone through training, diet, and lifestyle choices.
Go check it out, and implement each of these points for a healthier, more relaxed life.