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Finding yourself in a familiar rut?

Updated: Jan 25, 2020

Whilst this did make me chuckle, if you are regularly relying on coffee to wake up or function, or alcohol to get to sleep or relax, you might want to rethink your stress management.

Cortisol is one of our stress hormones, our natural human rhythmn means a burst of cortisol in the morning on waking, which then decreases throughout the day. Cortisol is also released when we perceive a stress, to place our body into 'fight or flight' mode to deal with the issue at hand. This means processes like digestion aren't priority and the body's resources are directed towards raising blood pressure and blood glucose levels, stimulating the immune system in case of an injury. All of which are great responses to the threat for the short term but can cause all sorts of issues in the longer term.

So what does this have to do with alcohol and coffee?

Whilst stress can raise cortisol levels, causing some of us to reach for the bottle, unfortunately so too can alcohol and caffeine. Consumption of alcohol and caffeine causes a release of cortisol and perpetuates your body's state of stress or 'fight or flight mode' - which quite frankly is exhausting! Causing you to reach for the coffee and well you know the rest.

Here's a few caffeine & alcohol free tips to de-stress

1. Focus on your breath

Just 3 deep breaths - in through the nose out through the mouth can help bring you back to the present moment an help you to just pause for a few seconds. Helping to reset the nervous system.

2. Move your body

As we spoke about above, cortisol pushes us towards 'fight or flight', increasing the blood glucose ready to provide energy to the muscles. As well as utilising this excess energy, cardio, weight training or yoga, will also give you a dose of endorphins - helping to prevent restlessness

3. Epsom salt baths

Magnesium is a calming mineral that often we just don't get enough of. Epsom salts are full of easily absorbed magnesium, add to your bath along with a stressed human and enjoy. Or invest in some magnesium oil to spray on the skin before bed. The Root Cause Clinic favourite magnesium fixes can be found here


Kioukia-Fougia, N. et al. (2002) ‘The effects of stress exposure on the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, thymus, thyroid hormones and glucose levels’, Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 26(5), pp. 823–830. doi: 10.1016/S0278-5846(01)00297-4.

Nielsen, F. H. (2010) ‘Magnesium, inflammation, and obesity in chronic disease’, Nutrition Reviews. Oxford University Press, 68(6), pp. 333–340. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00293.x.

Stephens, M. A. C. and Wand, G. (2012) ‘Stress and the HPA axis: Role of glucocorticoids in alcohol dependence’, Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, pp. 468–483.

Fjorback, L. O. et al. (2011) ‘Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy - a systematic review of randomized controlled trials’, Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. Wiley/Blackwell (10.1111), 124(2), pp. 102–119. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2011.01704.x.

Khusid, M. A. and Vythilingam, M. (2016) ‘The Emerging Role of Mindfulness Meditation as Effective Self-Management Strategy, Part 1: Clinical Implications for Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Anxiety’, Military Medicine. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-14-00677.

van Son, J. et al. (2013) ‘The Effects of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Emotional Distress, Quality of Life, and HbA1c in Outpatients With Diabetes (DiaMind)’, Diabetes Care, 36(4).

Tanriverdi, F. et al. (2007) ‘The hypothalamo–pituitary–adrenal axis in chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia syndrome’, Stress, 10(1), pp. 13–25. doi: 10.1080/10253890601130823.

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