If you’re struggling to shed your winter coat, getting your anxiety levels in check might just be the saving grace you’re looking for.
A little bit of stress here and there is totally normal, we all feel it! But living in constant state of pressure can be enormously disruptive to your health, wellbeing and weight. From wrecking your workouts to sabotaging your sleep, stress can definitely wreak havoc on your life if you let it.
One of stress’ most evil attributes is its capacity to release cortisol – a stress hormone which acts directly on fat deposits and causes the old spare tire around the tum (just what you want coming into summer, right?). You see, when our bodies are under stress our adrenal glands trigger a flight or fight response, which sends a message to the cortisol receptors in our bellies. Being the intelligent little creatures we are, our bodies go into red alert – putting bodily functions on standby and preparing for perceived threat. Hence, the extra tub stored around the tum as available fuel in case of famine (It’s actually kinda clever when you think about it).
Fat storage aside, our stress hormones can also take responsibility for those god forsaken Krispy Kreme cravings during angsty times. Dear old cortisol gives us a higher preference for addictive behaviours and makes sugary and fatty foods as attractive as Channing Tatum in Magic Mike. Plus, the rebellious little hormone acts on the hypothalamus in the brain, increasing hunger and practically feeding you itself during times of stress.
Being the age of technology, the real problem lies in the fact that we no longer have a clearly defined beginning and end to stressful periods. Our phones are with us at all times, we’re constantly reading our emails and never really switching off entirely. This is why out bodies tend to react in such an extreme fashion. Most of us are living in a constant state of stress and our bodies are making themselves at home in struggle town.
So now I’ve showered you with all the bad news, I can deliver the good part... There are ways to improve your response to stress and it all starts with recognition. Take note of your physical reactions to stressy situations - do your shoulders tense up? breath become short? or heart start pounding? Learn some breathing exercises, close your eyes, download some sort of mind soothing app. When you feel the wrath of stress starting to take hold, simply distract yourself. Walk away, call a friend, do some stretching - anything you can to calm your mind. If work is the culprit, put boundaries around it. Take meals and snacks away from your desk and be sure to leave the building and step into the sunshine at least once a day.
Perhaps one of the most effective tools in stress management is humble old exercise. It gets you pumping endorphins AKA happy hormones, which make you… well... happy. And we all know there’s no room for stress when your grinning like a Cheshire cat. The truth is, just as how you deal with stress is individual, so are the ways in which you can resolve it. Whether it’s working on your time management skills, taking a holiday, practicing meditation like some sort of Peruvian Guru or jumping on the yoga bandwagon, find what works for you and stick with it. Trust me when I say your spare tire will thank you.