5 Signs You Have High Cortisol (and what to do about it)

Everyday stressors like juggling work, family responsibilities, challenging relationships, bills and even traffic, can really fill up our stress cup and raise our cortisol levels. When these stressors pile up, our bodies stay on high alert, leading to chronically high cortisol levels. This can really affect our mood, sleep, and overall health, making everything feel a bit harder to handle.

Cortisol, often called the "stress hormone," is our body's natural response to stress. It's super helpful in short bursts, like when you're being chased by a bear. But when stress sticks around for too long, cortisol levels can stay high, causing some not-so-fun health issues. So, let's chat about what happens when cortisol is high all the time and how to spot it.

1. Weight Gain, Especially Around the Midsection

Feeling frustrated by that stubborn belly fat that just won’t go away? High cortisol might be to blame. When we’re stressed, cortisol can increase our appetite and make us crave all the sugary, fatty foods. This often leads to weight gain, particularly around the midsection. It’s like our body is holding onto fat for dear life, thinking we’re still being chased by that bear.

2. Sleep Disturbances

Just can't fall asleep at night no matter how exhausted you feel? High cortisol levels can mess with your sleep patterns. Normally, cortisol should drop in the evening to help you wind down, but if it stays high, it can keep you wired and awake. This can lead to insomnia or just poor-quality sleep, which is super frustrating when all you want is a good night's rest.

3. Fatigue and Low Energy

Even if you manage to get some sleep, you might still feel like you’re running on empty. Chronic high cortisol can leave you feeling constantly tired and drained. It’s like your body is stuck in overdrive, using up all your energy reserves. So, if you’re always feeling exhausted, high cortisol could be the culprit.

4. Poor Hair and Nail Growth

Ever noticed your hair seems thinner or your nails are more brittle? Stress and high cortisol can affect the health of your hair and nails. Your body prioritises vital functions over non-essential ones like hair and nail growth during stressful times. This can result in slower hair growth, hair loss, and weak nails. It’s one of those sneaky signs that something might be off.

5. Mood Swings and Anxiety

Feeling more irritable or anxious lately? High cortisol can have a big impact on your mood. It affects neurotransmitters in your brain, which can lead to mood swings, anxiety, and even feelings of depression. It’s tough dealing with emotional ups and downs, but recognising this as a sign of high cortisol can be the first step in managing it.

So, What Can We Do About It?

Sick of feeling tired and wired all the time? The first step is to become aware of our stress levels, and the things that stress us out, and make the time to do things to counteract them. Here are some daily habits that can help lower those pesky cortisol levels, and fill you calm cup instead:

  1. Exercise Regularly: Physical activity is a fantastic stress-buster. Make a date with yourself to take a walk, head to the gym or do some gentle yoga daily. Whatever exercise you enjoy best will help lower those cortisol levels.
  2. Practice Mindfulness: Carve out time every day, even if it's just 5 minutes for activities like meditation or deep breathing exercises. This helps to tell your mind and body that you are safe and it can reduce those stress hormones.
  3. Maintain a Balanced Diet: Nutrient deficiencies can increase stress within the body, so nourish your body with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole foods. Avoid excessive caffeine and sugar, which can spike cortisol levels.
  4. Get Enough Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine and stick to a consistent sleep schedule. Need some help sleeping? Check out our tips here.
  5. Stay Connected: Spend time with friends and loved ones. Social support can significantly reduce stress and its impact on your body.
  6. Take Breaks: Whether it’s a quick walk outside or a few minutes of stretching, regular breaks can help lower stress throughout the day. We recommend using these moments to apply a little Calm Balm to your wrists and take a big deep breath of the soothing essential oils.
  7. Increase Your Magnesium Intake: Magnesium is essential for muscular relaxation, and chronic stress can make us burn through even more magnesium, leaving us feeling more tense and stressed - it's a frustrating cycle! Increase your levels easily by applying Magnesium Oil daily before bed, for improved sleep and relaxation.

By understanding these signs, we can take steps to manage stress and improve our overall health. Incorporating these simple, daily habits we can lower cortisol levels and improve our overall well-being. Remember, taking care of yourself isn’t just a luxury—it’s essential for a healthy, happy life.

Calm Balm

Calm Balm by The Physic Garden - The Physic Garden


"Gorgeously scented with mandarin, bergamot and cedarwood essential oils with a shea butter base. This calming balm once applied to your pulse points, along the wrists and the neck really does soothe and calm you. Perfect if your feeling stressed or anxious. I like to use it along with the physic garden sleep balm. Calm balm for during the day and sleep time at night prior to going to bed. Smells amazing. All natural with no hidden nasty chemical ingredients." - KC