Stress and obesity are often directly related. It is a common knowledge that stress and anxiety cause weight gain. It’s important to address all components of this problem in order to reduce your stress and anxiety, as well as your waistline.
What Does Stress Do To The Body?
Stress has the power to interrupt the proper function of nearly every system in the body. It can cause a number of physical reactions.
When we are faced with stress, whether it be a lack of money, a busy schedule, poor diet or other negative conditions, the body begins to produce the stress hormone cortisol, which prepares us for “fight or flight.” This stress and anxiety response is what gives us the heightened awareness and energy we need to deal with dangerous events in our lives.
Unfortunately, in today’s society, stress is inevitable. Constantly being faced with deadlines, errands at the last minute and having to be “on” 24/7 can overwhelm and exhaust us.
Stress actually causes the body to hold onto fat, as it becomes depleted of certain hormones needed to break down fatty acids. It can also cause increased appetite, resulting in overeating and unhealthy eating habits. Many people eat as a way means of stress management. Emotional eating will lead to weight gain and can be a risk factor for diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
People who experience chronic stress and anxiety often turn to comfort foods, which causes belly fat. High cortisol levels lead to excess fat, sugar cravings, and high calorie food intake.
Can Stress Cause You To Lose Weight?
We all have different sensitivities to stress depending on hereditary factors, previous experiences, and personality. But not everyone who is stressed becomes overweight.
Some people lose their appetite and end up losing weight instead.
Stress levels also affect energy levels, patience, the ability to sleep well at night, and a person’s general mood.
Stress and Unhealthy Behaviors
- The number of calories a person eats when they are stressed compared to how many calories they usually do eat. In one study, after being exposed to a stressor, the test participants ate 50% more than usual two hours later, and 20% more three hours after being exposed to their stressor.
- How long a person is stressed for. For example, for a few days after a major life event such as a divorce or a loss of employment, the person gains weight because they are comfort eating and not sleeping well.
- How much physical activity a person does when they are stressed compared to how much physical activity they usually do. In one study, when people experienced stress, they reduced the amount of physical activity by about 30%.
- The types of food a person eats when they are stressed. When people are stressed, they eat more carbohydrates and less fruits and vegetables than usual. This makes them gain weight in the long run because refined sugars can cause insulin resistance or high blood sugar levels.
For people who are overweight, they have to change their lifestyle to include healthy behaviors. They need to include more physical activity. Exercising regularly can help fight against gaining weight. Two specific exercises to help reduce stress and burn excess calories include:
- Aerobic exercise – increases heart rate and breathing patterns
- Strength training exercises – help stabilize blood sugar levels in the long term.
Physiological Reactions to Stress
Stressful events can slow your metabolism because your body thinks you are in danger. The body wants to preserve all energy stores for as long as possible. The cortisol that your adrenal glands secrete causes your body to store fat.
Some recommend cutting back on exercise if it triggers additional anxiety symptoms by stressing about when you will be able to work out. If you stress about exercising several times a week, you may get a better effect if you workout a little less and use mindful eating.
Let’s get to the bottom of the causes of stress and how to combat one or more stressors that cause weight gain.
What is Stressing You?
What is experienced as stress is very different for each individual. Some common causes of long-term stress are shift work, sleep problems, time pressure, relationship problems, bullying, loneliness, and financial worries.
The feeling of not being able to influence their situation and not being enough is perceived as stressful.
For the most part, the stress symptoms have been denied and repressed for a long time before “walking into the wall.” A certain personality type is considered to be at increased risk of developing fatigue syndrome. These are often ambitious, perfectionist, and emotionally committed people. People who have difficulty delegating and find it difficult to say no to employees and family members are also at greater risk of exhaustion. Women working in health care, care, and school are overrepresented.
A high tempo is not in itself harmful, but everyone needs time to recharge their batteries. Having a good balance between work and leisure is a well-known factor in feeling good. If privacy does not work, you do not work at work and vice versa. Sleep often suffers, and many go to bed late. It can be nice to unwind with mental relaxation, meditation, or yoga before bedtime.
A good benchmark is to think that you divide your day as follows: 1/3 work, 1/3 leisure, and 1/3 sleep.
What can I fix myself?
Start writing a list of things that you think you are doing too much. Create a list of things you would like to do more. Ask yourself the question:
- What makes me feel good?
- What or who is draining my energy?
- How can I change my life to have more time for what I want to do?
Wasting thoughts and time on things you can not influence is a habit you can change. But it takes time to change habits.
Signals that indicate that you may need to improve your mental health and the balance of your life:
- Tense muscles (pain in shoulders, neck, head).
- Sugar cravings and snacking on unhealthy foods lead to stress related weight gain.
- Sleeping problems.
- Constant fatigue.
- Skipping Meals
- Eating a lot of fast food.
- Often depressed.
- Increased alcohol intake.
- Anxiety disorders
Different things work for different people. Try different methods until you find something that suits you. Here are some suggestions to try:
- Micro breaks.
- Abdominal breathing.
- Muscle relaxation.
- Mental training.
- Conscious presence
Once you acknowledge the physical symptoms associated with your anxiety disorder, you can begin to implement a healthy diet, with fewer calories and healthy eating behaviors. For more information please be sure to check out Extra Large.