In some way our lives are all full of hassles, deadlines, frustrations, and demands….whether it be from work or home life. For a lot of people Stress starts to become a way of life. Its not always a bad thing-in small doses, it can help you perform under pressure and motivate you to do your best. But when you’re constantly running in “stress” mode, your health and wellbeing will start to pay the price.
The Body’s Stress Response
When you perceive a threat, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rouse the body for emergency action.
Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, speed your reaction time, and enhance your focus – preparing you to either fight or flee from the danger at hand…..but when you are in constant stages of “chronic stress” your health becomes at risk and this often leads to weight gain.
Stress and elevated Cortisol tend to cause “fat” deposition in the mid section of the body…often referred to as “toxic” fat, as fat around the abdominal area can often be associated with cardiovascular disease.
Many people often admit that when they are “stressed: they find it hard to maintain any health eating habits….whether it be emotional eating or grabbing some sweets/cakes/chocolate/alcohol because you feel there is “no time”
Stress out lifestyle = an unhealthy lifestyle
Chronic Stress can contribute to weight gain in the following ways:
Having too much of the Hormone “Cortisol” floating around in your body can cause your Metabolism to slow down.
When you are stressed….often it can lead to you reaching for the big bar of chocolate or ice cream…oh yes I am talking about “cravings”….When you are in a state on Chronic Stress your body craves fatty, sugary foods …..the types of foods that are going to cause weight gain…this in turn can play havoc with your Blood Sugar..causing fatigue, mood swings and even worse diabetes. This can also bring on “Emotional Eating” < then your body will always associate “stress” with certain foods….in no way helping the weight
Increased Stress = Increased fat around the belly area.
Lack of exercise….you may feel so stressed and so overwhelmed that the last thing you want to do is exercise.
You can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your overall health.
Exercise regularly. Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress. Make time for exercise, at least three times per week. Nothing beats exercise for releasing pent-up stress and tension….plus it becomes “you” time!
Eat a healthy diet. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day. Avoid “Processed” foods and sugar like the devil and get variety in your diet.
Avoid caffeine and sugar. The temporary “highs” caffeine and sugar provide often end in with a crash in mood and energy. By removing the coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet, you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll sleep better.
Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary. Don’t avoid or mask the issue at hand; deal with problems head on and with a clear mind.
Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.
Cortisol is an important hormone in the body, secreted by the adrenal glands and involved in the following functions and more:
Proper glucose metabolism
Regulation of blood pressure
Insulin release for blood sugar maintanence
Cortisol has been named “the stress hormone” because it’s also secreted in higher levels during the body’s ‘fight or flight’response to stress, and is responsible for several stress-related changes in the body. Small increases of cortisol have some positive effects:
A quick burst of energy for survival reasons
Heightened memory functions
A burst of increased immunity
Lower sensitivity to pain
Helps maintain homeostasis in the body
Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream have been shown to have negative effects, such as:
Impaired cognitive performance
Suppressed thyroid function
Blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia
Decreased bone density
Decrease in muscle tissue
Higher blood pressure
Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slowed wound healing, and other health consequences
Increased abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body. Some of the health problems associated with increased stomach fat are heart attacks, strokes, the development of metabolic syndrome, higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), which can lead to other health problems!
Cortisol should be at its highest of a morning and lowest of an evening time….but when in states of stress…it can remain high all the time and this can also effect SLEEP!!!