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Control your cortisol.

The next time you’re totally stressed, stop and pay close attention to your body. Feel all that tension and anxiety? That, my friends, is a cortisol party—no, it’s a full-blown rave—and it’s wreaking havoc on your system.

Cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone,” is not bad in and of itself. At normal levels, it has important jobs, like regulating blood pressure and releasing insulin. It’s also useful at higher levels as part of the body’s response to stress, the fight-or-flight response. The trouble starts when cortisol levels stay high for too long—ahem, when you’re stressed all the time. Then, it causes higher blood pressure, a weakened immune system—not good during winter cold and flu season—suppressed thyroid function, increased abdominal fat…. Shall we go on?

Take charge of your cortisol levels by keeping stress in your life to a minimum—think less rage, more yoga. And, when you do get stressed, don’t let the cortisol stick around after hours. Use some sort of relaxation technique to bounce those babies right out of there.

Posted: 2/22/08
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