When you're under pressure, your cortisol spikes to provide the body with a quick dose of energy. Chronic stress, however, can keep your cortisol elevated continuously—a dangerous state, since the hormone can suppress the immune system and has been linked to the accumulation of abdominal fat.
What You Can Do
When I'm stressed, I close my eyes and breathe deeply for two to three minutes with one hand on my chest and the other on my belly; my chest stays still while my abdomen rises and falls. As you calm down, your cortisol should drop to normal levels.