Nuance is rarely captured appropriately. Our body and hormones are constantly fluctuating. Cortisol is just one hormone involved in the body’s stress response, and those other hormones impact one another. Balancing cortisol does not mean eliminating it.
For example, did you know appropriate exercise increases cortisol in the short term and then helps reduce levels after that initial spike? BUT if exercise is overdone, it can cause prolonged increases in cortisol, so if you already have increased cortisol, the wrong exercise for you will exacerbate the problem, which is why generalized recommendations for types and timing of exercise to lower cortisol are entirely inappropriate, especially when given by someone without any training related to muscles, movement, or the nervous system.
That’s just one example of the nuance that’s often missing.
The reality is cortisol levels high enough to impact daily life because of chronic stress typically cannot be solved with generic, googleable tips alone, but can definitely be made worse. This is another reason we should stop focusing on cortisol itself, instead taking a step back to expand our focus and address the root of the issue, which is chronic stress.
Did you know sexual harassment is directly linked to high blood pressure? And what if, for example, you experience that regularly? There are SO MANY systemic issues that cause chronic stress – it’s a large part of why health outcomes vary so drastically with socioeconomic status in this country…
So with all due respect, telling people that postponing a morning cup of coffee or strength training will magically balance their cortisol levels is privileged, offensive, and reductive – especially if your nervous system is naturally triggered much more often and easily with a hyper-aroused limbic system because of trauma, autism, etc. So let’s BFFR here… a protein-rich breakfast in and of itself won’t make the nervous system immune to what happens over the next 24 hours. Everyone’s life is uniquely complex and stressful.
It takes more than a few well-known tips; it takes real-world tools. It takes emotional release. Safe somatic release. And more than anything, it takes an understanding of your emotional and sensory triggers. We need to know how to cope; to be able to regulate ourselves throughout those moments. And that’s not always conventional or textbook; it’s self-discovery and acceptance; it’s radical, primal healing.
But that’s not popular to say. It’s easier to put some text on screen and promise a few things will fix your nervous system. But that’s not the truth. That’s preying on the fact that we all just desperately want to feel better-equipped to handle our daily lives.
And I love you, so I will always tell you the truth. Even when it's not popular.... especially when it's not popular.
I may be working on things to help with this… pda keeps things quiet.
P.S. If you truly think you have a serious hormonal imbalance, if accessible, please see an endocrinologist or other medical professional; that is the ONLY way to truly know YOUR hormone levels and get proper direction/hormone therapy.