What’s the worst chemical for our skin? The sneaky chemical that causes all sorts of break-outs, flare-ups, rashes, unevenness, and robs us of our glow? Hint: it’s not hiding out in our serums and moisturizers. We make it ourselves inside our bodies. I’m talking about cortisol.
Cortisol is the hormone our bodies secrete in moments of stress. Not only can it wreak havoc on our skin, it can cause acne, eczema, irritated scalp, weight gain, fatigue, and more. If you’re already rolling your eyes because this is just one more person hounding you to dial-back the stress, we hear you. Oh, you just want me to stress less? Simple as pie! I’ll just turn that right off. Thanks so much! Life is perfect now. LOL.
We know that “stressing less” isn’t exactly a voluntary action we can take and just turn on or off like a switch. It takes practice, and there are many approaches to get started on turning up your chill so you can prevent over-producing cortisol. We’ll spell out a few.
Have an orgasm
That’s right, a little bit of “oh right there, that’s the spot” can help! And it doesn’t necessarily have to be partnered: you can practice a little masturbation-as-medicine all by yourself to reduce your cortisol levels and manage the effects of chronic stress. Plus, the less you stress, the easier it is to become aroused, and the easier you become aroused, the more often you’ll be having orgasms. That must be what they mean when they talk about that post-sex glow.
Try simple breathwork
This is one tip you can try anywhere (as opposed to the above). An easy method is called box breathing, and it was created by Navy Seals to deal with high-stress environments. It doesn’t require practice or advanced kundalini training, and it’s actually super easy. Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, breathe out for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, and start over for as many rounds as you’d like. Try breathing from your belly when you inhale so you get all the benefits of diaphragmatic breaths. This naturally decreases your heart rate, and it’s great before an intense meeting or public speaking engagement, when you’re running late in traffic, when you’re on a plane, before bed, or literally anytime, anywhere.
Drink green tea
Black tea, white tee, oolong, matcha: it all comes from the same plant, and you can reap the same stress-reducing effects from consuming any of them on the regular. On top of reducing cortisol, the powerful antioxidants and nutritive compounds found in green tea lower blood pressure and heart rate. Just make sure to cap your last serving in the early afternoon so the caffeine doesn’t conflict with a restorative night’s sleep.
“Elle Woods was right: exercise does produce endorphins, and endorphins make us happy, and well, you know the rest.”
Exercise, but not too much
Elle Woods was right: exercise does produce endorphins, and endorphins make us happy, and well, you know the rest. Getting physical also helps boost serotonin and reduce adrenaline and cortisol. But if you’re already super stressed, some super high intensity training won’t make things better. If your angst is through the roof, try a brisk walk followed by some gentle movement, like foam rolling. A yin yoga or a pilates class will get the blood pumping without causing your body any additional stress.
There are tons of herbs and adaptogens out there that have serious superpowers when it comes to reducing your cortisol production and dialing down your default mode 10 chill points when it comes to how you react in stressful situations. Rhodiola and ashwagandha are both great for reducing stress and insomnia, but those effects don’t happen overnight. Start taking these in small doses now to reap long-term benefits. You might start seeing a change in 10-14 days.