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14 Ways To Reduce Cortisol Levels


Cortisol is a very famous hormone in the modern era. Over the years it has gained popularity at a fast pace.

This hormone has adrenal glands that trigger your stress. This hormone is completely related to your brain and the nervous system with a fight-or-flight factor.

In short, cortisol is a stress hormone that needs a good amount of regulation. Short-term release of the cottage is good for your health.

This amount of cortisol helps you react quickly in dangerous situations. Too much release of this hormone can be fatal for your health too.

It is very important to keep cortisol levels in regulated amounts for health purposes. The reason behind it is that it can cause problems like diabetes, heart disease, and many more if high.

In this article, we will discuss various ways through which we can lower our cortisol levels.

Best ways To Lower Cortisol Levels

  1. Sleep

    Sleeping is healing. This single quote holds immense value. Sleep issues can be an obstruction to better stress levels.

    Whereas stress levels should be kept low at all times. Sleep is an essential factor in reducing[1] your cortisol levels.

    This is because sleep tends to relax your body and your organs. That’s why when we wake up, we feel fresh because of the relaxation from sleep.

    Sleeping for at least eight hours a day is essential. This is how to keep stress levels as low as possible.

    To get better sleep, you must set a bedtime routine. Going to bed on time and waking up at the right time each day are also important.

    Another tip to improve your sleep cycle is to limit your bright light exposure at night time.

  2. Exercise Well Enough

    Exercise is an excellent way to reduce your stress besides losing fat. The phenomenon is to keep yourself busy.

    Exercises range from light to intense, and each type of exercise is essential for different needs.

    Regular exercise is more important than intense exercise. Intense exercise does control your cortisol but for a short time.

    The study[2] says one should exercise regularly to control cortisol effectively. Regularly exercising should also be based upon a specific limit.

    Breaking your body is good, but to a limit. The reason is to keep the limit low to have better results.

    Fun fact, regular exercise can also help you reduce[3] acute stress levels with adverse effects on health. This might not be the case in intense exercise.

  3. Breathing

    Breathing and stress are both inversely proportional to each other. This means that the more effectively you breathe, the lower your stress levels.

    The less you care about your breathing cycle, the more it will affect your mental health.

    The study[4] proves that people with good breathing cycles have lower cortisol levels. This means they have lower stress and happier lives.

    Mindful breathing exercises are the best method to breathe effectively. Deep breaths are considered the best type of breathing exercise to ever exist.

    This exercise has one of the best results on your stress and your respiratory system.

  4. Laughter

    Laughter is the best medicine in all cases. Doctors usually recommend that their patients laugh and stay happy.

    This is because laughter and happiness help you reduce your life’s worries. While doing so keeps you away from things you should not think about.

    Laughter promotes[5] more endorphins which surprise the stress hormone known as cortisol. It also reduces pain, regulates your blood pressure, and gives you a better immune system.

    Two types of laughter are where one is authentic laughter, and one is forced laughter. Both types of laughter can help you reduce cortisol in different amounts.

    One way to laugh more is to consume comedy content which you can find in abundance these days.

    Participating in laughing yoga is also an effective method to help your cortisol levels.

    Research[6] has proven that people who indulge in more activities are generally happier. Hence, laughter reduces the amount of cortisol.

  5. Meditation

    Meditation is probably one of the best exercises one can indulge in. Directly helping to reduce stress, meditation is an ayurvedic method to give you results[7] without harmful effects.

    Meditation is nothing but closing your eyes and sitting in peace with yourself. You understand happiness when you start to feel peace in your inner self.

    Ultimately this happiness helps you to reduce your cortisol levels. Breathing in different manners is also a part of meditation.

    This is why the bigger picture of meditation takes you to a peaceful life. It is a light exercise that does not require you to burn calories.

    Instead, all you have to do is sit down and relax. Ultimately relaxation is what helps you to regulate cortisol in your body.

  6. Good Relationships

    Relationships can be the core result of high stress. This is why you should know the difference between a happy and a toxic relationship.

    A relationship can be with anyone, whether a friend, partner or family. The point is to lead a happy relationship. Stability in life is the key to a happy life.

    The same is the case with relationships. Find stability in your relationship, and see the results[8].

    Toxicity infuses stress while increasing cortisol levels. A relationship where you are unhappy is the one making you mentally sick.

    There is a big difference between drift and a toxic trait when it comes to a relationship. One must know how to differentiate between both.

    This study[9] has proven that cortisol levels usually increase after an argument with a partner.

    On the other hand, people with happy relationships have far better cortisol in their nervous system.

  7. Say No To Social Media Addiction

    In an already hectic schedule, you add up another problem to stress about. Social media is a helpful tool that helps connect with like-minded people.

    However, a big concern is too much virtual bonding and stressing over fake information. A study[10] suggested that social media use increases salivary cortisol levels.

    Other findings of excess use are linked to depression and even suicide. You should make the best use of social space but interact in real life too. Indulge in activities with friends or family.

  8. Control Your Screen Time

    Sleep and cortisol are correlated. Any changes in cortisol levels affect[11] sleep. Similarly, changes in sleeping patterns and habits determine cortisol levels.

    So make sure to sleep well. Keep your phone aside an hour before you doze off to sleep. Reducing screen time relieves[12] the eyes and mind.

    Hence your body feels light. You might even fall asleep quickly and have a sound sleep. If you need a bedtime activity, try reading instead.

  9. Take Supplements, If Prescribed

    Unfortunately, people either do not take stress and cortisol seriously or try to skip medicines.

    Though natural methods, exercise, and nutrition are essential, they might not work for you. Talk to your doctor when cortisol is on the rise alarmingly, and nothing helps.

    They may suggest[13] some supplements. Do not be reluctant to take them. While you continue to care for yourself, medical attention is sometimes essential and cannot be replaced.

  10. Stick To Your Hobby

    Every aspect of life is essential, and so are hobbies. Give your fun activities a try. They help attain inner peace and joy.

    Hence, reduce your cortisol level and increase your psychological and physical well-being, as per this research[14].

    Drawing, singing, dancing, skating, or anything else that works for you is perfect. Take out some time for yourself.

  11. Take Breaks

    Breaks and rest are out of sight in the trend of hustle culture. Remember to not overburden yourself.

    Resting is as productive as working. It prepares the body to function efficiently[15] and carryout routine work.

    Excessive work may cause fatigue and stress. Hence it can cause cortisol to rise.

  12. Eat Nutritious Meals

    Nutrition determines the health status of an individual. Eating stale or junk food contributes to calories and health problems.

    Too much caffeine, sugary foods, alcohol, and meats cause cortisol to rise. Eat such foods in moderation.

    Daily, eat a balanced diet. Foods like bananas, dark chocolates, and avocados keep cortisol levels in control[16].

    Probiotics present in curd, pickles, and other fermented foods also help. Try replacing caffeinated drinks with green or black tea.

    Try healthy options like sweet and citrus fruits, sprouts, and chia pudding for snacks.

  13. Try Finding Your Spiritual Path

    It may sound weird, but spirituality helped people get into calmer waters. You might feel a pure connection to the divine.

    More importantly, you can connect to yourself and introspect. This practice helps[17] you find a balance and figure out all that’s going wrong.

    Thus, the chances of being stressed reduce and so do the cortisol levels. If you do not believe in spirituality, try helping someone.

  14. Get A Pet

    You might not know, but chances are, an affectionate being is what you are craving. Their unconditional love might bring joy to your life.

    The study[18] conducted for the same suggested that interaction with pets lowers cortisol levels. It is also used as a stress buster activity.

    Try sitting with your pets for some time. Taking care of them and their waggy tails might keep cortisol levels under control.


Cortisol is not just a stress hormone[19]. It has a crucial role to play in almost all important body functions.

Cardiovascular health, sleep, blood sugar, and immune system are related to cortisol. Excess levels of this hormone may lead to anxiety and depression.

You may gain weight, have a hump between the shoulders, or have sleep disturbance. To alleviate the risk, try deep breathing, reading books, resting, and doing yoga.

Focus on your nutrition and sleep. If needed and prescribed by your doctor, do not shy away from supplements.


Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. R Leproult, G Copinschi, O Buxton, et al. Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next evening Sleep. 1997 Oct;20(10):865-70. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9415946/
  2. E E Hill, E Zack, C Battaglini, et al. Exercise and circulating cortisol levels: the intensity threshold effect J Endocrinol Invest. 2008 Jul;31(7):587-91. doi: 10.1007/BF03345606. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18787373/
  3. ANTHONY C. HACKNEY and ELIZABETH A. WALZ Hormonal adaptation and the stress of exercise training: the role of glucocorticoids Trends Sport Sci. 2013; 20(4): 165–171.
  4. Xiao Ma, Zi-Qi Yue, Zhu-Qing Gong, et al. The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults Front Psychol. 2017; 8: 874. Published online 2017 Jun 6. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00874
  5. JongEun Yim Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review Tohoku J Exp Med. 2016 Jul;239(3):243-9. doi: 10.1620/tjem.239.243. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27439375/
  6. Maria Meier, Lisa Wirz, Philip Dickinson, et al. Laughter yoga reduces the cortisol response to acute stress in healthy individuals Stress. 2021 Jan;24(1):44-52. doi: 10.1080/10253890.2020.1766018. Epub 2020 May 26. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32393092/
  7. Wanpen Turakitwanakan, Chantana Mekseepralard, Panaree Busarakumtragul Effects of mindfulness meditation on serum cortisol of medical students J Med Assoc Thai. 2013 Jan;96 Suppl 1:S90-5. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23724462/
  8. Beate Ditzen, Kurt Hahlweg, Gabriele Fehm-Wolfsdorf, et al. Assisting couples to develop healthy relationships: effects of couples relationship education on cortisol Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2011 Jun;36(5):597-607. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.07.019. Epub 2010 Sep 1. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20813462/
  9. Aubrey J. Rodriguez and Gayla Margolin Wives’ and Husbands’ Cortisol Reactivity to Proximal and Distal Dimensions of Couple Conflict Fam Process. 2013 Sep; 52(3): 555–569.Published online 2013 Jul 3. doi: 10.1111/famp.12037
  10. Holly M. Rus and Jitske Tiemensma Social Media under the Skin: Facebook Use after Acute Stress Impairs Cortisol Recovery Front Psychol. 2017; 8: 1609.Published online 2017 Sep 19. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01609
  11. Marja H. Leppänen, Katri Sääksjärvi, Henna Vepsäläinen, et al. Association of screen time with long-term stress and temperament in preschoolers: results from the DAGIS study Eur J Pediatr. 2020; 179(11): 1805–1812.Published online 2020 May 27. doi: 10.1007/s00431-020-03686-5
  12. Lauren Hale, Gregory W. Kirschen, Monique K. LeBourgeois, et al. Youth screen media habits and sleep: sleep-friendly screen-behavior recommendations for clinicians, educators, and parents Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2018 Apr; 27(2): 229–245. doi: 10.1016/j.chc.2017.11.014
  13. David A. Camfield, Mark A. Wetherell, Andrew B. Scholey, et al. The Effects of Multivitamin Supplementation on Diurnal Cortisol Secretion and Perceived Stress Nutrients. 2013 Nov; 5(11): 4429–4450.Published online 2013 Nov 11. doi: 10.3390/nu5114429
  14. Sarah D. Pressman, Karen A. Matthews, Sheldon Cohen, et al. Association of Enjoyable Leisure Activities With Psychological and Physical Well-Being Psychosom Med. 2009 Sep; 71(7): 725–732.Published online 2009 Jul 10. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181ad7978
  15. Kara E. Hannibal and Mark D. Bishop Chronic Stress, Cortisol Dysfunction, and Pain: A Psychoneuroendocrine Rationale for Stress Management in Pain Rehabilitation Phys Ther. 2014 Dec; 94(12): 1816–1825.Published online 2014 Jul 17. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20130597
  16. Michelle Duong, Jessica I. Cohen, and Antonio Convit High cortisol levels are associated with low quality food choice in Type 2 Diabetes Endocrine. 2012 Feb; 41(1): 76–81.Published online 2011 Oct 9. doi: 10.1007/s12020-011-9527-5
  17. Oluwaseyi O. Isehunwa, Erica T. Warner, Donna Spiegelman, et al. Religion, spirituality and diurnal rhythms of salivary cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone in postmenopausal women Compr Psychoneuroendocrinol. 2021 Aug; 7: 100064. Published online 2021 Jun 6. doi: 10.1016/j.cpnec.2021.100064
  18. Maria Petersson, Kerstin Uvnäs-Moberg, Anne Nilsson, et al. Oxytocin and Cortisol Levels in Dog Owners and Their Dogs Are Associated with Behavioral Patterns: An Exploratory Study Front Psychol. 2017; 8: 1796.Published online 2017 Oct 13. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01796
  19. Lauren Thau; Jayashree Gandhi; Sandeep Sharma. Physiology, Cortisol Last Update: September 6, 2021. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538239/

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