5 Ways to Naturally Lower Your Christmas Stress Hormone (Cortisol)

As midlifers we tend to have a lot going on in our lives which can cause stress trying to fit everything in. At Christmas our stress levels can rise further as additional jobs get added to our to-do list. This can have an effect on our main stress hormone, cortisol, which can negatively affect our health and weight loss efforts. Find out five ways to reduce your main stress hormone. midlifemenu.com/blog/stress-hormones

5 Ways to Naturally Lower Your Christmas Stress Hormone (Cortisol)




Its causes are absolutely everywhere. Would you agree? And at Christmas time our stress levels can rise even more.


We rarely feel that we’ve got time to relax and take time for ourselves. And we’ve discussed previously how our main stress hormone, cortisol, may be an underlying factor to our midlife weight gain around the middle.


Our natural “fight or flight” stress response can sometimes go a little overboard. It’s supposed to help us escape injury or death in an emergency and then return to normal after we’ve fought or flew. But, that doesn’t happen too much in our society - it becomes a long-term reaction. It becomes chronic. And this can particularly be the case over Christmas where additional jobs plus hosting, socialising and a lack of sleep can all add up to yet more stress.


You’ve probably heard of the main stress hormone, called “cortisol” and we discussed it in this early blog post in relation to belly fat.  It’s released from your adrenal glands in response to stress. It’s also naturally high in the morning to get you going, and slowly fades during the day so you can sleep.


Did you know that too-high levels of cortisol are also associated with poor sleep, brain fog, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and even lowers your immunity? That’s in addition to belly fat!


Most of us midlifers experience one of more of these symptoms especially at this festive time of year. So, read on because I have a list of foods, nutrients and lifestyle recommendations to help you lower this stress hormone naturally and relax into the Christmas celebrations!


Foods and nutrients to lower your stress hormone, cortisol


Let’s start with one of the biggies that increases your cortisol… sugar. Reducing the sugar we eat and drink can be a great step toward better health for our minds (and bodies). This is why Midlife Menu is focussed around sugar and reducing the intake there of. If you want support in cutting down your sugar intake, join the 5 Day Sugar Free Challenge – it’s FREE!


High doses of caffeine also increase your cortisol levels. If coffee makes you feel anxious and jittery, then cut back on the amount of caffeine you ingest. Have a read of: Should you drink coffee? Benefits or side effects?


Also, being dehydrated increases cortisol. Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day, especially if you feel thirsty or if you’ve had one too many snowballs! Drinking plenty of water can also help reduce overeating too.


Eat a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods; this doesn't just help reduce stress hormone, it helps all aspects of your health.


Lower your cortisol levels with tea and dark chocolate (not the sugary milky kind!). Have a bit to unwind.


Don’t forget your probiotics and prebiotics! There is so much new research about the gut-mind connection and gut health and how taking care of your friendly gut microbes is key! Make sure you’re eating probiotic rich fermented foods and getting a healthy dose of prebiotic fibre.

Lifestyle techniques to lower stress hormones


It’s not just food, but there are things you can do with your time that can lower cortisol.


Reduce your stress with mindfulness. Many studies show that reducing stressful thoughts and worry reduces cortisol.


Get enough exercise (but don’t overdo it). While intense exercise increases cortisol levels temporarily, it can reduce overall cortisol levels. If you’re visiting family or friends over Christmas, try to get out for a walk to fit in a bit of easy exercise.


Get enough sleep!

Getting adequate sleep is way too underrated and sleep can be severely affected over Christmas as we stay up later, drink more alcohol or stay over at friends or family in unfamiliar and sometimes ‘put-up’ beds. Sleep reduces cortisol levels and also helps improve your overall health in so many ways.


Relax and have fun. Things like deep breathing, massages, and listening to relaxing music all reduce cortisol.


Be social and bust loneliness. Would you believe me if I told you that science has shown health risks from social isolation and loneliness? It’s true! Maintaining good relationships and spending time with people you like and who support you is key. We’re often surrounded by people over Christmas so enjoy the socialising and try to balance it with some quiet time if you need it.


5 ways to reduce stress hormones over the Christmas period.

  • Increase your intake of water, probiotics and prebiotics. Consume dark chocolate and tea in moderation.

  • Have a regular exercise routine – not too much though!

  • Work hard at getting more sleep especially if your routine is being disturbed – see 5 ways to overcome sleep deprivation for more ideas

  • Incorporate ways to relax and to laugh and have fun – be around positive people who make you happy and don’t drain your energy.


In the comments below, let me know your favourite ways to bust the stress hormone cortisol!

Content Disclaimer

The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Midlife Menu Ltd disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.