November 23, 2010 | | Leave a comment Stress can cause anxiety, tension, and sleepless nights; but, could it also be making you FAT? It very well might be. When your body undergoes stress, it releases a stress hormone called Cortisol, which can suddenly stop your metabolism like hitting the brakes. An abrupt stop of your metabolism, will indeed adversely impact your weight. Do you crave fatty, salty, and sugary foods when you’re stressed? That is all part of the Cortisol effect. You may also experience changes in blood sugar levels, which can lead to mood swings, fatigue, and other conditions that can cause weight gain and serious health problems such as heart disease. To add insult to injury, Cortisol has also been linked to increased belly fat. Yuck! When you are stressed, you more than likely experience lack of motivation. With less time for exercise and healthy eating during times of difficulty, stress can adversely impact your ability to keep the pounds from piling on. Now, talk about adding stressâ€¦ This starts a horrible cycle! Now you stress about added weight! Take control. Â Â 6 tips to Help You Keep Your CompoSURE: Take a Breather – Relax It may be one the oldest tricks in the book, and advised the most; but, it really does work. Your mind is racing and you see no end to your list of things to doâ€¦ It should be no surprise the effects of a few good, deep breaths can do for you. Breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. Go slowly and focus on filling up your stomach (not your chest) with air. Continue to breathe until you feel more at ease. This helps to get oxygen flowing through your body and relaxes you. This exercise can be done anywhere – in your office, in traffic, standing in line at a department store, in court – all of these places tend to be stressful. Put Your Endorphins to Work – Exercise Endorphins are the feel-good hormones that directly battle anxiety and tension. Making time to go to the gym may be very difficult; however, even small amounts of physical activity can boost metabolism and bring on major health benefits. Walk at lunch, play with your kids, walk the dog for 30 minutes, shoot some hoops, take a bike ride, or if you’re lucky, go to the gym. A great stress reliever is also swimming. Put your endorphins to work for you! Don’t Eat the Whole Steak in One Bite – One Thing at a Time We don’t consume a steak in one bite. Instead, we cut the steak into manageable pieces and before you know it, the whole steak is gone! Instead of being consumed by thinking of everything you have to do for the next week or month, focus on what you can do today, right now. Learning to set achievable goals on a daily basis is paramount. Make sure to write them down. Remember to cross off each task after completion – this gives you visual proof of your accomplishment. In essence, this is also a step in promoting better time management skills. In looking at completed tasks, you will feel less overwhelmed and before you know it, your “steak” will be gone! Avoid Feeding Stress – Put That Cupcake DOWN When you are pulled in a million directions and lack time, it may be comforting and easy to reach for unhealthy foods. Fast foods and comfort foods are not the way to go. Don’t keep unhealthy snacks in your space. Get rid of the candy and chips in your desk drawer. Gaining additional weight during stressful times only exacerbates your stress. During times of anxiety or stress, try to snack on healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. Try calming teas, such as chamomile. Avoid sodas. And as tempting as alcohol may be, try to refrain from drinking. The calories are bad enough; yet, studies prove that alcohol is a depressant. Make sure to drink plenty of water or sports drinks fortified with electrolytes. Â Â Music, Art, Photography, Books, Friends – Stress Relief We all know that music can be an escape. Having your favorite tunes close by really does help. To alleviate stress, pick up an interest or a hobby. If you love art, visit a museum. Make the time. Do you enjoy taking pictures or looking at photography? Do it! Books are also an awesome escape, as is an afternoon at the movies. Friends and socializing help us in perhaps discussing troubling times and they also make great companions for any of the aforementioned activities! Most importantly, MAKE time for yourself. Â Â Sleep – Repair Lack of sleep is linked to increased risk for weight gain, depression, colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. With that said, the very thing you may deprive yourself of, may be the very thing that is adding pounds and ultimately MORE stress. When you don’t get adequate sleep, you’re body goes into a state of stress. Why promote stress? Don’t let stress rob you of sleep. Your body needs sleep to repair. Melatonin is a natural supplement you can take at night that helps to promote sleep. Your health is all you really have. Each one of these suggestions can be expandedâ€¦ Surely, this will be a topic again in the near future. Moms, Classes, Careersâ€¦ Life is stressful; but, don’t let stress put a cramp on your life. By taking calculated steps, you can help to alleviate stress. In so doing, you create a healthier life. And a long life is what we all hope for. Do more than wish. Take control and tell pesky stress to take a hike! Add that to your activities list. 🙂 If you have some good stress relievers, please share them in the comments section below! Or if you have any questions, feel free to start a dialogue!