STRESS... can it make ya fat? and sick? and make it stop?
Are you stressed constantly? Do you find yourself telling yourself to take deep breaths, calm down, or just constantly tense all the time? Do you get sick a lot? Do you have unexplained weight gain? Do you find yourself laying in bed at night not being able to sleep due to “everything on your mind”?
If you answered yes to any of the above (pretty sure every human has at some point) then guess what…. you are stressed. Did you know that some studies show that 99% of all illnesses are caused by stress? No I do not know if I completely agree that only 1% of illnesses are then caused by other factors, but I do absolutely agree that stress can indeed make you sick.... and lead to weight gain.
WHY STRESS IS SO BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH:
What is cortisol? It is a hormone that is produced by your adrenal glands and released in your brain and is used by your body for a variety of reasons. It is released in response to stress in your body and helps restore balance. If you are stressed for a long period of time the release of this hormone is elevated causing your hormonal balance to be out of whack. When your hormones are out of whack.... you get a variety of problems, from illness to unexplained weight gain.
Do you find yourself hungry when you are stressed? That is due to this response in your adrenals. An excessive amount of cortisol causes a spike in glucose, causing an increase in insulin release in thein the blood------ leading to hunger----- leading to possibility of weight gain from over eating.
Metabolic Syndrome is as stated on the Sciencedaily from a study from UCSF, is a "cluster of abnormalities" , ranging from increased blood pressure, cholesterol, fat around the mid section, and high blood sugar. All of these can be triggered by chronic stress and the bodies response to it. All of these things increase ones risk to stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.
Most people tend to go towards high fat, high sugar foods when they are stressed for comfort, the bodies response to these things versus healthy foods can also through hormones off since they are processed and cause inflammation in the body, which again leads to stress on our systems.
SO WHAT AM I GETTING AT? WHAT TO DO?
Of course it is a lie if we think we can eliminate all stress for the rest of our lives, but there are solutions to helping lower it day to day.
Here are some ideas I recommend:
- Get enough sleep! This is huge in keeping hormones balanced, try to shut down every night around the same time. Get your body and sleep cycle into a routine and it will be easier to fall asleep each night regardless of what you have going on.
- Take deep breaths - When you find yourself getting tense, slow down, take a minute and breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, slowly. Do 5 or so deep breaths, then do it again.
- EXERCISE (but be sure to rest in between)- Working out not only lowers cortisol levels by helping maintain hormonal balance and a healthy weight, but it also releases endorphins (aka happy medicine from the body) :). You will feel better, and get those stress levels down. BUT overtraining can lead to just the opposite, so if you have a hard workout session then make sure you wait a day or so before doing it again. In the meantime do a not as intense workout like a brisk walk, yoga, etc the following day.
- Eat the right foods - Things containing Omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, and certain teas are all proven to reduce cortisol levels. So go for things like salmon, spinach, and green/black teas.
- Read- relax and lose yourself in a good book or magazine.
- Stretch/meditate- If you are an avid yogi, good for you! You're probably already benefiting from less stress as they focus on the mind/body/breath connection as they do in meditation. Take some time for you if you are not, do something that relaxes you daily and if you can get yourself to learn meditation it is proven to help.
- Read referenced verses above ;)
- Manage time wisely- if you have an over packed schedule, learn to say no. You do not have to do everything everyone asks you to do. Yes certain things are priorities but you may need to reevaluate what is really important and what isn't. If your health isn't on that list.... make sure it is and change accordingly. If you do not have your health those other "priorities" will never happen.
I hope this helps and can benefit ya! As always, please share and let me know your feedback!