June 2, 2020 • 4 min read
Written by Leigh Ann Errico
We’ve all heard the term cortisol, but how does it really fit into the puzzle that is our health and immune system? Did you know, for example, that cortisol can help you solve challenges and achieve goals, from mastering tai chi to earning a new career certification?
What is Cortisol and Why Do We Need It?Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” (hence the sometimes negative connotation), but it’s crucial for the protection of overall health and well-being. This hormone is made by three glands in your body: the hypothalamus, the pituitary and the adrenal glands.
Cortisol is famous for being associated with the fight-or-flight response. If you were to encounter a bear on a weekend hike, cortisol would work to depress non-essential or even harmful functions during the threatening situation.
Almost every cell in the human body has a cortisol receptor. According to the Endocrine Society, cortisol can help :
The Problem with CortisolCortisol, like all hormones, needs to be in a balanced state in our bodies. Too much cortisol, often caused by too much stress for prolonged periods of time, can lead to a number of chronic health problems. High levels of cortisol are linked to:
MeditateImplementing a daily form of meditation, sometimes called breath work, can significantly help to reduce cortisol levels. The exercise does not have to take long or be complicated. Box breathing, a tool often used by Navy Seals to stay calm in high-pressure situations, can be done quickly and discreetly, for instance. Try this:
Find a RitualRituals are also a nice way to aid in the reduction of stress and, therefore, cortisol levels. They have the power to trigger the brain to start relaxing and winding down from being fully engaged. A few to try:
Take Time to Take ControlCortisol isn’t just a villain. It helps us to be productive and make important decisions under pressure ― both essential for career success. But, in this case, “too much of a good thing” can wreak havoc on your health and on progress toward your goals. Take control of your cortisol levels right now ― it’s a breathwork exercise away.
This article was first published by Health Journal: