When you’re striving towards success, breaking new ground and on your way to dominate there is one thing that can silently and slowly creep up on you and stop you dead in your tracks and that’s why its important to be aware of it and make sure you have daily habits to keep it in check.
It goes by the name of “stress” or more specifically the stress hormone “cortisol”.
Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease… The list goes on and on.
Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy.
In the pursuit of high achievement its often easy to overlook health and maintaining a balanced life.
I often see numerous entrepreneurs who forget about their health in order to work hard and long hours until they make a lot of money and then decide they want to undo the excess weight gain and poor dietary habits they picked up along the way.
Those are the lucky ones. They were fortunate enough to have time on their side but its not like that for everyone. How many times do you hear about young Japanese executives who die early from working long periods in stressful conditions. They call the phenomenon “Karoshi” which literally translates to “death from overwork”. You can read more about it here.
Canadian biochemist Hans Selye of McGill University in Montreal identified that there are two types of “stress”: eustress (good stress) and distress (bad stress).
Both eustress and distress release cortisol, once the alarm to release cortisol has sounded, your body becomes mobilized and ready for action—but there has to be a physical release of fight or flight. Otherwise, cortisol levels build up in the blood which wreaks havoc on your mind and body.
Eustress creates a “seize-the-day” heightened state of arousal, which is invigorating and often linked with a tangible goal. Cortisol returns to normal upon completion of the task. Distress, or free floating anxiety, doesn’t provide an outlet for the cortisol and causes the fight-or-flight mechanism to backfire.
Fortunately, you can make 5 simple lifestyle choices that will reduce stress, anxiety and lower your cortisol levels. Below are 5 tips to reduce stress and lower cortisol levels everyday:
- Get plenty of good quality sleep
This is probably the one that most people striving towards success are guilty of not doing. A lot of high achievers I see often promote messages like “hustle hard” and “grind all day long”, finding great pride in working long and hard but you need to remember to keep a balance. Its important to have a good sleep pattern and get at least 7 to 9 hours of good quality sleep everyday. Sleeping in this range has tremendous benefits on reducing stress.
2. Don’t skip meals
Make sure you don’t go without a meal for more than 3 or 4 hours at max. If your blood sugar is going all over the place your cortisol probably is too. Have a high protein breakfast in the morning and try to have small balanced meals containing protein, complex carbohydrates and fresh vegetables throughout the day.
3. Exercise daily
It doesn’t have to be too long or strenuous. Even a simple 30 minute walk, some yoga or moderate cardiovascular exercise can do wonders to reduce stress, what’s important is that you do it consistently.
4. Take time out to relax
We all need some down time and its important to take your mind completely off your work. Separate work time and down time and by that I mean don’t have a lifestyle where you’ll constantly be answering phone calls or emails or other requests during the time you allocate for down time.I find that meditation is great for this. Just take out 10 to 20 minutes and quieten your mind. You can have some relaxing music on if you would like but just focus on the quietness and stillness within or on a specific thought.Another thing I like to do is listening to hypnosis audio’s. Being in trance can be deeply relaxing and depending on what you’re listening to you can change or improve your behaviour at the same time. Another benefit to hypnosis is that 15 minutes of being in trance is said to be as beneficial to the equivalent of 4 hours sleep.
5. Incorporate adaptogenic herbs into your diet
Adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha and Rhodiola Rosea have been clinically proven to reduce stress. I take a patented form of Ashwagandha called Sensoril. Sensoril has been clinically proven to reduce serum levels of the stress hormone Cortisol by upto 14.5% in just 2 months. A four month supply only costs around $15 and it is well worth it in my opinion.
So there you are, those are my simple tips to reduce stress and lower cortisol.
Do you have any stress lowering tips and strategies that you use?