We all experience some stress in our lives, but how we react to that stress determines how much it affects our overall health and wellbeing.
When we are stressed, our body releases hormones including adrenalin and cortisol. Normally, that is not a problem, unless we feel stressed all the time. Too much of certain hormones can cause our blood pressure and blood sugar levels to go up. Equally important and less understood: long term stress can cause our body to store fat.
Because stress and weight are so closely linked, it is very important to learn how to manage our stress better.
Here are 5 ideas that can help you keep stress levels in check:
1. Listen to Your Body’s Stress Signals. Are your shoulders tense, are you clenching your teeth, do you feel shaky? If so, you might be experiencing a stress response. If you can catch these signs early, it is easier to cope with the feelings, rather than letting the feeling build to the point where you feel overwhelmed and out of control.
2. Find Outlets for Frustration – Do you have a way to redirect anger or stress? Distracting yourself from the stressor or redirecting your energy can be helpful. Try working on a hobby like painting, play with your pet or do some light exercise. Many people walk or jog to reduce stress. Exercise also can trigger endorphins, which in turn can lift your mood.
3. Use Your Social Support Networks – When people have support from friends and family, the impact of the stress is lessened. Here’s an example: Caring for a sick family member is very stressful. You can lower your stress level by reaching out to family and friends for help. Remember, it’s important to be specific about the help that you need. Don’t just give hints, make sure your request is clear.
4. Prepare and Predict – The ability to predict and prepare for stressful events can also lessen the stress response. For example: doctor’s appointments can be stressful for many people. You might consider keeping a separate calendar for planning appointments, and create a document with all of your medications, health history, current health concerns, and food journal.
5. Control What You Can and Let the Rest Go – Feeling in control is important, but it’s also important to recognize the things that you can’t control. That lets you focus on the things you can control. Here is an example: You can’t control a co-worker who is always late and unreliable. You can control your own work ethic, the quality of your work and the relationship that you have with your superiors.
Overall, there is much we cannot control about other people, but we can learn to manage how we ourselves respond to other people and stressors in our lives.
In summary, stress can directly impact weight management. You can keep your stress in check with one or all of these five ways.