Stress is your mind and body’s response or reaction to a real or imagined threat, event or change. Depending on the stressful event, the body's response to stress is either fight-or-flight. Stress has an impact on a person's mental and physical well-being. The threat, event or changes are commonly called stressors. Stressors can be internal (thoughts, beliefs, attitudes) or external (loss, tragedy, change).

Cortisol is released in response to stress, sparing available glucose for the brain, generating new energy from stored reserves, and diverting energy from low-priority activities (such as the immune system) in order to survive immediate threats or prepare for the exertion of a new day. However, prolonged cortisol secretion may result in significant physiological changes. These changes may be seen physically in terms of weight gain/loss, unexpected hair loss, Heart palpitations, High BP or in the form of Emotions like Mood swings, Anxiety, depression and can also lead to unhealthy coping strategies (i.e. alcohol, drugs, etc). Hence cortisol levels need to be managed to overcome chronic effects.

Responses to stress include adaptation, psychological coping such as stress management, anxiety, and depression. Over the long term, distress can lead to diminished health and/or increased propensity to illness; to avoid this, stress must be managed. Stress management encompasses techniques intended to equip a person with effective coping mechanisms for dealing with psychological stress including controlling the source of stress or learning to set limits and to say "no" to some of stressors.

Factors generally reducing cortisol levels are:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids have an effect in slightly reducing cortisol release influenced by mental stress
  • Music therapy can reduce cortisol levels in certain situations
  • Massage therapy can reduce cortisol
  • Laughing, and the experience of humour, can lower cortisol levels.
  • Black tea may hasten recovery from a high-cortisol condition
  • Regular dancing has been shown to lead to significant decreases in cortisol concentrations.