- Sleep it off. Eight hours of sleep every night is one of the most effective ways of lowering cortisol. Even if you didn't sleep well the night before, a midday siesta can help make up for lost hours and normalize your cortisol, according to research at Pennsylvania State University.
- Listen to some soothing tunes. By spending time listening to your favorite songs, you can significantly lower your cortisol levels.
- Massage the cortisol away. Well, no one had to tell you a massage helps you unwind, but several studies have shown regular massage therapy is an effective way to slash cortisol levels
- Laugh till it hurts. Laughter can help reduce cortisol - by as much as 39 percent says a study from Loma Linda University. So pop in a DVD of your favorite sit-com or hang out with your buddy the wannabe comedian to melt the stress away.
- Eat regular, balanced meals. Skipping meals and low-calorie dieting can trigger the release of stress hormones. Instead, eat a healthy, balanced diet of at least three meals and one snack each day. Include whole carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats.
- Avoid too much caffeine. You may think you need eight cups of java a day to function, but the truth is that caffeine is a stress trigger to the adrenal glands. Chronic high cortisol will cause fatigue and poor brain function over time, so in the long term those shots of espresso do more harm than good. Try sticking to less than three caffeinated beverages per day.
- The little things add up. Studies show simple things like chewing gum, spending time with loved ones, deep breathing exercises or spending a few minutes meditating can help reduce cholesterol levels.
For many, managing stress is a lifelong journey of baby steps. But rest assured that each step you take in the right direction will improve your health and restore you body's natural reserves of energy and vitality.