Stress less and lose weight
Having a few (or more) extra pounds around the waist heightens the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and at least 13 types of cancer, including breast and colon cancer.
One of the most common causes of weight gain is chronic stress. Stress triggers a cascade of physical and emotional changes that drive you to eat more, eat less nutritious food and eat more fattening comfort food.
All these responses come down to a stress hormone called cortisol which promotes inflammation and signals our bodies to pile on the pounds, especially around the midsection.
Losing weight is difficult at the best of times. People are often told to exercise more, eat less high calorie food and eat more nutritious food. Though this advice is good, being chronically stressed makes this standard type of advice a bit harder to swallow as your biological response is against you.
Rather than repeating the mantra of exercise more and eating less, another strategy is to successfully manage your stress to help lose weight.
Here are four strategies that can help you on the path to less stress, less weight and a healthier outlook on life:
- Burn off stress with enjoyable exercise. Physical activity actually reduces cortisol levels. Choose an exercise that you enjoy to dissolve the daily stresses is a great first step. This can be in the form of going for a walk, yoga or even high intensity workouts (if that’s your thing).
- Make sleep a priority. Ensure you get a good restful sleep every night. Getting the right type of sleep for the right amount of time helps reduce the circulating cortisol hormone levels. Avoid ‘screentime’ within an hour of bedtime and try to maintain a regular time for going to bed and getting up in the morning.
- Planning ahead is important. If you know stressful situations are coming up, set up strategies and support systems to help you through these times.
- Visit your doctor. If all else fails and your stress levels are not reducing, talk to your doctor about other avenues to help beat stress and reduce weight.