Is Stress Making You Fat?

With wellness becoming a common objective across the country, more and more people are seeking answers when it comes to weight issues. One of the most recent concerns is whether or not stress affects weight gain. Although some individuals shed the pounds when distressed, a large number of people gain weight. This is because there is a connection between overeating and emotional strain.

One of the main ways stress affects weight gain is through the hormone cortisol. When the body is under stress, the brain triggers a fight or flight reaction. Cortisol is released during the process. This hormone provides the energy needed to respond to the stresses. Cortisol remains in the system after the anxiety passes, and it increases appetite as it replenishes the system.Too much cortisol in the body can slow down the metabolism. This can lead to an increase in body fat as well. With prolonged or chronic stress, the blood sugar levels may also be negatively affected, which can result in overeating. In many cases, a stressful lifestyle prevents people from making healthy choices regarding diet and exercise. The result is more carryout meals and less physical activity.

In today’s hectic world, stress eating is a common occurrence. Many individuals eat in order to fulfill emotional voids. During stressful moments, a person may be more likely to crave salty, sugary or fatty foods as well. Additionally, the nervous energy that arises from stressful situations can cause the need to eat more than normal. Even if a person isn’t hungry, eating becomes a stress-relieving activity.

Although it may be impossible to completely eliminate daily stresses, there are ways to combat the associated weight gain with stress management techniques. One of the most effective ways to prevent stress is through relaxation exercises such as yoga, meditation, massage or tai chi. Focusing on the moment and using imagery exercises to bring about positivity are also good ways to reduce stress.

Because the body easily stores fat during stressful times, exercise is essential for dealing with life’s pressures. However, it isn’t necessary to establish a strict workout program. Leisure activities such as bike riding, swimming, tennis and hiking are all great anxiety relievers. Taking up a hobby is also a good way to subconsciously fight the urge to eat.

Identifying the causes of anxiety can be just as important as relieving the stress. This can be accomplished by keeping a journal and recording personal behaviors, relationship issues and job related demands. Once the source is determined, the stress can be managed through problem-solving, time management, saying no more often or finding a distraction during taxing situations.

Ultimately the most effective way to control stress is by assertively expressing feelings and concerns. The chance of a problem being solved increases the more a person openly discusses his or her needs. Daily demands may never cease to exist, but it is possible to maintain a sense of calmness by anticipating and directly coping with the challenges of life.