Sarah awakes at 5:15am by her blaring alarm clock, well before sunrise to get off to the gym by 6am. After the startling effect of the alarm bell is turned off, she drags herself out of bed and into the bathroom. She rushes cold water on her face in an attempt to wake herself up. Before getting changed she switches the coffee machine on to make herself a pre-workout pick me up expresso before heading out the door. Once returning from the gym (feeling refreshed and awake now finally) she heads off to work. At 3pm the afternoon lull begins to hit and before she falls asleep at the desk and she reaches for the dark chocolate hidden in the desk drawer to get her through her last couple of hours at work (surely it’s ok if its dark right?) At home she makes herself dinner, and then settles into the loungeroom for the night, macbook on her lap finishing off some leftover work tasks while watching The Biggest Loser. At 10pm she figures she should get to bed as she has boot camp in the morning. As Sarah jumps into bed, she has a last minute check of emails, Facebook, and Instagram before switching out the light. Times ticks by and at 11pm she wonders why she is still wide-awake. Around 11:30 she begins to drift of until……BAM! It’s 5:15am.
IS THIS YOU?
If it is, it means your cortisol levels are much too high in the evening (from chronic stress, digital and light stimulation and poor nutritional choices through out the day) and much too low in the morning. Perhaps Sarah would have been better off sleeping in and getting another cycle of sleep in.
“In fact you could be healthier and fitter by all measures (including the pinch for body fat) if you replace the majority of early – morning strenuous workouts
with an extra hour of sleep and a moderate 20 minute walk around the neighborhood.” – mark sisson
10 easy steps to reducing my cortisol levels
1. Declutter – this means at home and in the office. Literally get rid of all the things you do not need, and learn to say “no” this year more often. You will find yourself with more free time and less stress and anxiety.
2. Sleep – 8 hours minimum.
3. Exercise – helps to reduce stress levels and lowers cortisol. Be careful though, chronic overtraining can lead to more stress on the body!
4. Rest and Recover – This means taking rest days during the week, and utilising active recovery in between workouts..
5. Eat real foods – always choose foods from nature over foods that are man made, highly processed and full of chemicals!
6. Get your nervous system working – all stress whether physical, chemical or emotional can have detrimental effects on the way your brain and body work. Help to manage this stress and improve your cortisol levels by ensuring your nervous system is free from stress!
7. Supplement – Fish oil and Vitamin B work wonders in combatting stress!
8. Turn off all digital stimulation around bed time – this means ipads, iphone, computers, tv’s.
9. Take some time out – never let work get in the way of some down time. A good work-life balance is essential for managing your stress. Take a long weekend break every quarter and rest completely from work at least one day a week (hey, isn’t this what sundays are for?!)
10. Pick 3 essential tasks per day – looking at a huge long list of “to-do’s” every day is daunting, and quite often you can get overwhelmed and spend your day procrastinating on Facebook instead. Pick out 3 essential tasks you want to achieve each day and your adrenals will thank you for it. This may mean getting the washing done, posting that gift you’ve been meaning to post for weeks and finishing an essay thats due. They don’t all have to be work related. Then cross them out on your to do list. I find this the most satisfying part!!