When Stress Leads to Weight Gain

Whether it is holiday mayhem or all the little things that add up over the course of the year, stress can destroy your well-being. Stress negatively impacts multiple body systems, impairing your immune system, darkening your mood and adding a little extra padding to your waistline. Simple stress reduction techniques and a bit of awareness can ensure you don’t become a victim of stress.

Why stress causes weight gain

Your body releases certain hormones and neurotransmitters based upon how you perceive a given stressor and the duration of that stressful state. Prolonged release of these hormones, particularly cortisol, impairs your body’s ability to perform other necessary tasks, which is why so many systems seem to shut down throughout stressful encounters. Properly managing your diet, routine physical activity and taking time to relax can help reduce stress and keep your hormones from going haywire, which means a smaller waistline, an improved mood and better health for you.

Calm your mind

Take a look at your lifestyle – you need to have a regimen for relaxation. If you do not, make a plan to claim some time for yourself. Participate in activities that ease your mind and allow you to be temporarily freed of all that is disturbing your peace. Some individuals find yoga a useful practice, others may prefer just some quiet time with a good book – whatever you choose, just make sure you make time for it on a regular basis – it is imperative to your good health.

Choose healthy foods

When developing a strategy to minimize stress in your life, a good place to start is your dietary habits. Whether you know it or not, the foods you choose to eat tax your body in different ways – too many simple carbohydrates and sugary sweets induce a stress response – if your body has no need for all that glucose, it has to divert it to other biological pathways. Ultimately, this leads to excess fat storage, particularly in the abdomen. Not a good place for it to collect, especially because too much of this type of belly fat is a risk factor for heart disease. Food allergies, sensitivities and the undeniably massive number of mysterious chemicals lurking in processed foods also contribute to stress. Foods that disagree with your body or are unnatural, do not optimize the operation of your body’s systems. Making changes to your diet can have a significant impact on reducing your stress levels.

Release tension

Stress can lead to many discomforts throughout the body. Your joints may ache, your muscles may feel tight, your stomach may churn or you feel restless with angst. However tension shows up in your body, it is uncomfortable. Daily exercise can do tremendous wonders for releasing body tension – and you don’t have to spend a lot of time or perform complicated moves to get results. Just 10 to 15 minutes of focused activity – running, swimming, walking or yoga, followed by a gentle stretching routine can make you feel more relaxed.  Practice mindfulness in the moment you are in, leaving behind thoughts of worry. You will stimulate a positive mood while releasing tension from your body.

Hormone balance

If the stressful state of your body never seems to unwind, especially long after the stressor is gone, you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue, a condition of hormone imbalance classically caused by stress. An evaluation of your symptoms and hormone levels can often pinpoint a diagnosis and subsequent treatment plan.  If you feel chronically stressed, tired, sick and depressed or anxious – despite your best efforts to relax – hormone testing can help you pinpoint the source of your distress and find a solution.