5 Ways to Lower Stress and Boost Testosterone
I shared some information about testosterone earlier in the month and want to circle back around to something I touched on in that article.
It all comes down to one word: STRESS.
One inescapable fact about men's health is that testosterone levels will lower as men age. But the abundance of stress on the body, mind and spirit in our society is speeding up that process at an alarming speed.
Stress is Everywhere
Stress isn't just relegated to the workplace (or hunting fields) anymore. In our society, it shows up in many forms:
- Mental stress from higher demands at work and longer hours
- Household stress, as families are busier than they've ever been
- Spiritual stress from the lack of community and spiritual practice in our more isolated lives
- Physical stress due to the vast amount of environmental toxins floating in our air
Pretty much everywhere you turn there's the opportunity for an unnecessary stress response.
Too Much Cortisol, Never Enough Sleep
Every form of stress can create a physical response: our body goes into fight-or-flight response, which triggers the release of cortisol. Cortisol is intended to send blood to our muscular system and make our senses hyper-sensitive, as stress used to indicate the presence of physical danger.
Nowadays, however, we're experience stress on all sides, and very, very little of it requires the boost that cortisol gives us.
What's more, that boost, especially when it occurs over and over again throughout the course of a day, makes it highly unlikely that you'll get the kind of sleep you need to truly rest and recuperate. That mind-spinning, heart racing, middle-of-the-night wake up?
That's cortisol's special gift to you.
It's the definition of a vicious cycle, from that point on: the less you sleep, the more stressed you're likely to be... which leads to the release of more cortisol.
What's more, this cycle is shown to create a drop in testosterone in as little as one week.
Weight Gain, the Other Stress Response
Another unfortunate impact of stress is weight gain: when our sympathetic nervous system is activated (as it is when we're stressed out), we don't digest our food properly. We also tend to go for sugary or high-fat foods to comfort ourselves.
The more excess fat a man is carrying, the more his testosterone will drop. Like the lack-of-sleep symptoms of cortisol, weight gain has an almost immediate impact on testosterone levels.
There's no getting around it: stress may be killing your testosterone.
5 Ways to Reduce Stress and Boost Testosterone
I sometimes feel like a broken record when I say this, but it's so important: the best thing you can do for your overall health is finding ways to reduce stress in your life.
This can look like:
1.Eating a healthier diet, with more protein and healthy fats (both of which can boost testosterone).
2.Pumping some iron at the gym at least three times a week. Heavy weight-lifting (without over-training) is a great stress release, and boosts testosterone almost immediately. (Over training or indulging in a big, fatty meal afterwards, however, will actually deplete your T levels.)
3.Getting some sleep! Prioritize your bed time, and develop good sleep hygiene.
4.Practicing mindfulness & meditation. Some of the top male athletes in the world have found that mindfulness practices increase their performance significantly. Taking a few minutes to yourself every day does wonders for stress levels, concentration, and feelings of well-being.
5.Turn off your devices for an entire day, once a week. The constant stimulus of being connected 24/7 is stress enough to raise cortisol. Take a digital detox as often as you can.
Without being alarmist, the decrease of testosterone is a BIG deal for men - but luckily reducing your stress levels can have an equally inversely impact.