Decrease Stress and Cortisol, Release Happy Hormones

By: Jillian Sampaio, RD, LDN / Last Updated On: February 27, 2024

Reviewed By: Gabrielle McGrath, MS, RD, LDN

Do you find yourself constantly stressed? Trust me, you’re not alone!

Whether you’re a college student, busy parent, constantly stuck at work, or just dealing with life, stress has a huge impact on our mental, physical, and overall health. 

Prioritizing and coping with stress is one of the most important skills that will help us get through things in life, but it’s hard to know where to start, am I right? 

It’s time for you to start investing your energy on yourself to manage your stress levels!

Young woman with brown hair framing her face with her hands, wearing a pink shirt against a matching pink background.

Understanding Stress 

First let’s gain an understanding of what stress really is. Stress is a broad term used to describe the nonspecific response of the body to any demand for change. It’s our bodys survival and defense mechanism for times we experience challenges or danger.

Not all stress is necessarily bad. For some people stress can work as a motivator for them to strive to do better and work harder – but this is usually acute and temporary stress.

The issues with stress occur when our body experiences prolonged, consistent, and unmanaged stress (chronic stress).

Stress is no joke! Not only can it lead to an imbalance in our stress hormone, cortisol. But, it can negatively impact our overall health including immunity, digestion, and mental health if left unmanaged.

In fact, stress has been found as a common contributing factor for several health issues. 

Stress can portray itself in a number ways physically and emotionally. Some of the most common side effects of stress are: muscle pain, weight gain/loss, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, headaches, increased cravings, and trouble sleeping. 

If you keep letting the stress pile up, it can lead you to the point of burnout. Burnout is defined as “a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion” from prolonged stress.

Table describing common signs of burnout like being easily irritable, having difficulty sleeping, experiencing loss of motivation, having overwhelming feelings, anxiety, and feeling exhausted and drained.

Don’t let yourself get to the point where you’re burnt out. This is your sign to start prioritizing managing your stress levels! Self-care is so important and an essential component of a healthy lifestyle.

Ways to cope with stress

Do you feel like you don’t have time or don’t know where to start? Don’t worry! I’ve got a number of different ways to help you cope with stress.

Assorted foods arranged in a circle on a white shiplap background. Includes salmon, avocado, pasta, bananas, nuts, grapefruit, tomatoes, garlic, zucchini, sweet potatoes, yellow bell peppers, kale, squash, jalapenos, green apple, spinach, eggs, chicken breast, beef, shrimp, lemon, and herbs.

Eat healthy balanced meals and practice mindful eating

Oftentimes when people are stressed they tend to turn to foods with empty calories (like a bag of chips) or overeat as a coping mechanism. On the other hand, some people may actually skip meals and not eat enough. This can further result in weight loss or weight gain. 

Remember that food is your fuel! Don’t feel guilty for eating that brownie or 2 slices of pizza (it’s okay to turn to our favorite comfort food), instead make sure that you overall nourish your body with nutrient-dense foods. It is important to not put you at risk for nutrient deficiencies and to help you feel good!

Incorporate balanced meals with veggies, whole grains, fruits, and protein throughout your week. 

Take your time when you eat too, don’t rush. Enjoy the moment, your surroundings, and listen to your hunger cues by practicing mindful eating.

Woman sitting on a white cushion, writing in a journal


Sometimes all we need to do is just let it all out and write it down. 

Writing what you’re feeling and what is on your mind is one way of getting whatever is stressing you out off your shoulders. However, you can also approach journaling by expressing gratitude, positivity, and creating goals. 

A woman wearing tie-dye leggings and a black top performing a backbend on a grey yoga mat placed on a wooden stage.

Relaxing activities 

All you need is at least 20 minutes to give yourself some alone relaxing time. 

Explore different relaxing activities out there such as meditation, yoga, or breath work. These are all things you can do at home (especially for my busy moms out there!). You can also try to find a local class near you. 

Meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises have been found to be successful stress reduction therapies from the American Psychological Association.

Massages and acupuncture are also a great stress coping activity to incorporate weekly if you can. They help release physical stress within your body and promote release of “happy” hormones (endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine).

A man and a woman wearing all-black fitness clothing performing lunges on a nature trail.


Whether you prefer going on a walk, cycling class, or the gym, prioritize getting that physical activity in! 

Exercising has been found to be one of the most effective methods to cope with stress and boosting mood. Regular physical activity produces mood-enhancing brain hormones which in turn can reduce your stress levels. 

Simply starting with daily 30 min walks and getting some fresh air is a huge step to prioritizing your stress and mental health! It’s one of my favorite things to do to clear my head when I’m stressed. Sometimes I even listen to a podcast on my walk to keep me going.

Table listing different adaptogens including Rhodiola rosea, ashwagandha, ginseng, Reishi mushroom, and Schisandra berry


Try incorporating adaptogens for stress support! They are a class of natural herbs that can help boost your body’s resistance to emotional and physical stress. They’re available in infused teas, coffees, supplements, and more!If you’re interested in learning more about adaptogens and its benefits check out my blog: Adaptogens: Super Herbs for Stress.

A white Labrador puppy peacefully asleep on a soft white blanket.


Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Poor sleep is a common cause of stress and causes more harm to your body thank you may think. 

Did you know that lack of sleep can actually increase cravings? This is because when we are tired, our satiety hormone (leptin) decreases, while our hunger hormone (ghrelin) and stress hormone (cortisol) increases.

Prioritizing good nights of sleep is so important for all aspects of your health. It allows your mind and body to rest and recharge.

Focused woman painting on a white table, surrounded by an array of colorful paint tubes and a wooden palette with mixed paints

Doing activities you enjoy

Whatever makes you happy, do it! Whether that’s spending time with loved ones, binge watching a show on Netflix, reading, or painting – it makes a huge difference on your mental health when you begin to incorporate weekly activities that make you happy.

Spending time with your family, friends, or pets can help you cope with stress by being a form of emotional support and get you through stressful times.

Main takeaway

Creating balance in your life will help prevent your stress levels from taking a toll on you. It’s okay to avoid toxic people in your life, to say no to things you don’t want to do, and take breaks. 

It is so easy to get caught up with everyday busy lives, it’s time to start prioritizing your stress today. Do things that make YOU happy and feel good.

It is crucial for your overall well-being, health, and even your future goals! There are several simple ways for you to start. 

At Wellpower Method, not only do we focus on attaining your health goals in a sustainable manner, but we also focus on building healthy stress coping habits to help you feel your best!

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I’m a virtual 1:1 Dietitian Nutrition coach who provides you with the highest level of accountability and support to quit dieting, find peace with food, fuel your body, unlearn unwanted behaviors, embody new habits and reach sustainable weight loss goals. 

Through the Wellpower Method, you will: