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 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. (1)
Here is a long list of easy ways you can lower your cortisol levels today, so that you can lower high stress levels and enjoy the benefits of higher testosterone as soon as possible.
Table Of Contents:
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 testosterone and 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. This doesn't include the daily spike that happens when endurance athletes are in intense training phases.
2. Don’t Over-train
While lifting weights and doing large power moves that incorporate a lot of muscle mass activation simultaneously are great for testosterone levels, there is a threshold in the amount of allowable training for optimizing testosterone.
One reaches a point where testosterone actually plummets and cortisol rises because of the stress your body is going through. This is known as the stress threshold.
Many athletes that desire more training will take anabolic steroids to counteract the rising cortisol levels. What they don't consider is the fact that 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” or begin to have digestive and sleeping problems you might be overtraining and throwing your testosterone and cortisol ratio out of whack.
Read More: 3 Natural Steroid Alternatives
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 many studies, working out in the gym can accentuate the effects of already elevated cortisol levels. This is why we recommend making sure your metabolism is not damaged before undergoing any kind of intense training regimen.
If you want a program built by professionals and back by science then make sure to check out the courses inside of UMZUfit!
4. Don’t Overdose On Caffeine
Everyone (including me) loves that morning cup of 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 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 one 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
Vitamin C is well known in the supplement world for its effects on cortisol.
It has been found to significantly reduce cortisol levels in both humans and rodents in many different studies.
One with real-world application was 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. This can make a huge impact on the testosterone and cortisol ratio.
7. Get Some Sleep
Sleep, sleep, and more sleep.
We talk about sleep a lot here at TestShock for its testosterone-producing effects.
But it should probably go without saying that sleeping also significantly 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.
Read More: The Last Guide You'll Ever Need For Sleep
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.
Rhodiola Roea is an adaptogenic herb. These herbs are able to help the body cope with stress.
In this study, researchers simply looked at the effects of rhodiola rosea in general and found that this adaptogenic root enhances physical performance, cognition, and lowers cortisol levels.
9. Chill Out
Relaxation is one of the best ways to lower cortisol.
Just take a chill pill – especially after exercise.
According to one 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
Body language has an immense effect on the brain and body in regards to testosterone levels.
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. KSM-66 Ashwagandha
One of the best adaptogens for lowering stress and increasing testosterone levels is KSM-66 Ashwagandha.
Clinical studies on this amazing herb have shown that it can massively reduce cortisol levels, and has been shown to increase sperm count by 167% percent in 90 days! A huge marker for increases in testosterone levels.
There were also studies showing increases in power output and strength, lowering of body fat levels, increases in stamina, and even improvements in brain performance.
Testro-X has the highest quality KSM-66 ashwagandha combined with other key minerals and herbs that can help you demolish your stress levels while skyrocketing your testosterone levels.
13. Go To Church
Or Temple, or Meditation, or your choice of a spiritual experience.
According to University of Mississippi researchers, partaking in regular spiritual practices can lower cortisol secretion by 25%. (2)
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 the key stress hormone by 12-19%. (2)
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. (3)
The mental health issues were especially pronounced in adolescent mice.
Note* - For some introverts this can actually increase stress hormone levels in crowds, so finding even a single friend to spend some of your time with is very beneficial.
16. Drink Enough Water
Everyone knows that they should be drinking more water, and here is another reason why.
Hydration state has been found to your testosterone to cortisol ratio.
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. Get A Dog
Ever wonder why therapy dogs show up on college campuses during finals week?
Studies show that playing with animals lowers cortisol while simultaneously increasing oxytocin, endorphins, and other healing hormones that promote self-healing mechanisms. (4)
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 high cortisol.
18. 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 levels. (4)
Not only that, but sex also reduces your risk for disease and stroke.
Go get freaky my friends!
19. Eat These Foods
Each of these foods has individual benefits towards reducing cortisol: (5)
- Dark Chocolate
- Chamomile Tea
- Olive Oil
- Orange Juice
Add each of these to your diet to enjoy a low-cortisol lifestyle. Check out my testosterone grocery list post.
20. Take The Thermo Diet Course
The Thermo Diet is the nutritional philosophy of Christopher Walker. Based on the metabolic theory of health and over a decade of research of hormones and metabolism, this is one of the most easy to implement and tastiest ways to increase testosterone and lower high cortisol.
Geared towards eliminating micronutrient deficiencies and optimizing hormonal balance The Thermo Diet is the perfect way to eat for anyone on this journey. To check it out inside of of UMZUfit click the link below!
Kuoppala, Ali. “Cortisol and Testosterone: How to Lower the Stress Hormone.” Anabolic Men. N.p., 30 July 2015. Web. 17 Aug. 2015.
Svoboda, Elizabeth. “8 Ways To Beat Your Stress Hormone.” Prevention. N.p., 3 Nov. 2011. Web. 17 Aug. 2015.
Bergland, Christopher. “Cortisol: Why.” Psychology Today. N.p., 22 Jan. 2013. Web. 17 Aug. 2015.
Rankin, Lisa. “10 Fun Ways To Reduce Your Cortisol Levels.” MindBodyGreen. N.p., 21 May 2013. Web. 17 Aug. 2015.
Kuoppala, Ali. “9 Foods That Lower Cortisol Levels Naturally.” AnabolicMen. N.p., 23 June 2014. Web. 17 Aug. 2015.