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15 Tips to Reduce Stress and Lose Weight
15 Tips to Reduce Stress and Lose Weight

The Effect of Stress on Your Health and Weight

Have you ever found yourself gorging on a stack of cookies or a tub of ice cream while coping with a major deadline or relationship quibble? Maybe you own a small business and deal with the everyday stressors of keeping your brand afloat while striving for growth or maybe you are a mom, hiding in your closet eating chocolate and cookies and suddenly, one day, you realize your waistline has expanded. If you have been in any of these scenarios, know you are not alone.

Stress can play a major role in your weight. Sometimes stress can lead to weight loss but it can also lead to significant weight gain. Stressful events can contribute to a change in weight, such as a divorce or financial crisis – or even the loss of a loved one. Stress that goes unchecked for a long period of time is a recipe for weight gain, which is likely why sufferers of chronic stress are also prone to suffer weight gain over time.

Stressed Man

Why Does Stress Lead to Weight Gain?

Oftentimes, stressful experiences lead to changes in habits. A person going through a difficult time may lose their appetite, skipping meals. But chronic stress can lead to an increase in appetite and emotional eating as well as a craving for unhealthy foods. Over time, the weight gain may accumulate. But why does this happen? Below are three common causes of stress-related weight gain.

1. Hormones

First, we will embark on a quick science lesson about the link between stress and cortisol. Stress stimulates the body’s fight or flight response. This response leads to the release of hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline. The job of adrenaline is to help prepare your body to act quickly, minimizing your risk of harm or injury. This hormone also reduces your desire to eat.

After the adrenaline begins to wear off, cortisol, or the stress hormone, makes an appearance. Cortisol suppresses non-essential functions, including your immune, reproductive and digestive responses. The trouble is that over time you can develop more cortisol in your system, which may cause you to crave less healthy food options that are higher in fat and sugar content.

2. Slower Metabolism and Belly Fat

One 2015 study found a link between stress and a slower metabolism in women. Women who were involved in the study were questioned about stressors they experienced the day before. Then the women were fed a high-calorie, high-fat meal, and the researchers later measured the women’s metabolic rate and examined their triglycerides, insulin, blood sugar and cortisol levels.

The findings showed that women who had one or more stressor within 24 hours before the meal had burned 104 fewer calories than the women who had not experienced stress the day before. Additionally, the women who were stressed had higher insulin levels, which contribute to fat storage. Their bodies also showed less fat oxidation, which is the process of converting large fat molecules into smaller ones to be used as fuel. When fat is not burned, it is stored, leading to weight gain. Based on the calculations by the researchers of this study, this may equate to a weight gain of nearly 11 pounds annually!

Stress-related weight gain is also undesirable due to the fact that increased abdominal fat is linked with greater health risks, as opposed to fat being stored in other areas of the body.

Sleepy Man

3. Less Sleep

Many sufferers of stress suffer from poor sleep as well. According to the American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” survey, over 40 percent of Americans suffer from sleeplessness as a result of stress. Stress and worry are a major cause of sleeplessness or insomnia.

Lack of sleep can also contribute to a disruption of chemicals in the body that help control appetite, leading to bad food cravings. Additionally, not getting enough sleep can eat away at our willpower, reducing our ability to resist temptation.

One study found that dieters who were overweight or obese were asked to follow a fixed calorie diet while getting either 5 ½ or 8 ½ hours of sleep. The participants who were sleep deprived lost significantly less weight.

Common Causes of Stress

We all have different stress triggers. Regardless of the cause, the impact can be huge on a person’s health and weight. Common causes of stress include:

– Work

– Relationship problems or Divorce

– The death of a loved one

– Getting married

– Financial struggles

– Chronic illness

– Injury

– Moving to a new home

– Emotional/mental health problems (anxiety, depression, guilt, low self-esteem, anger)

– Traumatic events (natural disaster, violence, assault, theft)

Stress can also come from the inside rather than outside sources. It is possible to undergo stress just by worrying about things. Fear and uncertainty as well as unrealistic expectations can also contribute, both short- and long-term.

Tips for Reducing Stress and Losing Weight

Our bodies are intricate and sensitive. When stress shows up, we have to take extra measures to keep them in balance. Weight gain, inflammation, acne, joint pain and skin outbreaks are all ways our bodies react to excess amounts of stress.

Losing weight is one result of a balanced body. These tips will help you to lower stress, reduce anxiety and inflammation while also letting go of excess weight so you can start to heal.

1. Breathe Deeply

Deep breathing is one of the most natural ways to lower your stress levels. When you breathe deeply, you help to reduce inflammation while lowering your heart rate and increasing relaxation. Try inhaling and exhaling deeply through your mouth while visualizing your stress and tension leaving your body and disappearing.

2. Eat Clean

What goes into our bodies has a major effect on how we feel, as well as our weight. Anti-inflammatory diets will naturally help balance your hormones while eliminating toxins and decreasing inflammation. Eat clean by avoiding processed foods, enjoying whole foods and limiting added sugars, salts and fats.

Burger and Fries

3. Take Herbs

Herbs can help to bring your system into harmony, including turmeric, ashwagandha and holy basil.

Turmeric is known for fighting inflammation and also is a natural stress reliever, thanks to its compound curcumin. It is best taken in capsule form as it needs to be taken in higher concentrations for its health and weight loss benefits.

Ashwagandha is a powerful herb, known for easing anxiety, stress and inflammation as well as protecting the nervous system. It may even be as beneficial as some pharmaceutical medications for fighting stress. It can be taken in capsule, liquid tincture or tea form.

Holy basil works to harmonize your system as it is an adaptogenic herb. This specific herb is touted for its ability to ease stress, anxiety and inflammation symptoms. Drink it as a tea or take in capsule form.

4. Take a Cold Shower

Cold showers are helpful in lowering inflammation as well as repairing the body. Cold showers help to create constriction in the veins, removing unwanted toxins. They also cause the body to release endorphins, which have a positive impact on bad mood and depression.

5. Get Antioxidants

When stress appears, the adrenals go into overdrive, and other vitamins and minerals are thus depleted within the body. Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, magnesium and potassium can help nourish your body, putting your body into balance.

6. Take B Vitamins

Stabilize your mood and increase energy levels by increasing your intake of B vitamins. They support the nervous system and brain while reducing anxiety. You can support clean eating and eat them in foods like eggs, beans, chicken, fish and liver.

7. Keep Low Light after 7

Don’t use blue light in your home after 7 pm to encourage your brain to wind down naturally, producing the sleep hormone melatonin. Minimize bright lights by installing dimmer switches or using low lighting or red lights when it begins to get dark outside.

Man on Computer in Bed

8. No Phone or TV in the Evenings

Another way to reduce stress is to not use your phone/tablet/computer/television in the evenings before you go to sleep. Watching TV or being on your devices late at night can inhibit your brain from dropping into a relaxed state. Try reading before bed to wind down instead of doing these activities.

9. Listen to Relaxing Music

Our bodies respond to music by decreasing our stress response and heart rate. Put on relaxing music when you feel stressed while practicing deep breathing to enter a state of relaxation.

10. Connect with People You Care About

Connecting with people we care about and love is another way to promote a healthy and happy nervous system. Spending time with family and close friends is rewarding in many ways. As humans, we are wired for connection and when we surround ourselves with people we care about, our bodies produce wellness-promoting hormones, such as oxytocin.

11. Exercise

Sometimes a brisk walk or a quick workout is just what we need to relieve stress. Take a yoga class, go for a swim or a jog or do another form of exercise you enjoy. Be careful not to overdo it, as too much can cause your body to go into a state of over-stress.

12. Reduce Caffeine

Caffeine can contribute to anxiety with some people. If you still want to drink something with caffeine, try green tea, which is rich in antioxidants and has positive effects on the nervous system. It also soothes anxiety and increases serotonin.

13. Try Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy can help to calm down your system, clearing your mind and relieving anxiety. Try relaxing scents like lavender, ylang-ylang, rose, chamomile and/or peppermint oil. Apply them topically or diffuse them in your room.

Stressed Woman Messy Desk

14. Declutter

Our external environment plays a role in how we feel. A messy home or bedroom can cause stress in the subconscious. Take time to clear the cobwebs in your home to clear some stress from your life. Consider getting rid of items that are of no value to you any longer. You can also clear clutter from your range of sight in a room to decrease stress.

15. Be Gentle and Kind to Yourself

How you speak to yourself makes a difference and can be one of the most powerful ways to reduce inflammation and stress. Practice self-care and self-love and honor yourself rather than punishing yourself for not being where you think you should be. This is an excellent and proven way to help eliminate stress in our lives and bodies.

– Psychosocial Stress and Change in Weight Among US Adults

https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/170/2/181/111196

 

– Stress as a common risk factor for obesity and addiction

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3658316/

 

– Adrenal Responses to Stress

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10571-010-9606-9

 

– Chronic Stress, Cortisol Dysfunction, and Pain: A Psychoneuroendocrine Rationale for Stress Management in Pain Rehabilitation

https://academic.oup.com/ptj/article/94/12/1816/2741907

 

– Stress and Eating Behaviors

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4214609/#__ffn_sectitle

 

– Daily Stressors, Past Depression, and Metabolic Responses to High-Fat Meals: A Novel Path to Obesity

https://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(14)00385-0/fulltext

 

– Intra-abdominal fat accumulation is a hypertension risk factor in young adulthood: A cross-sectional study

https://insights.ovid.com/crossref?an=00005792-201611080-00023

 

– STRESS IN AMERICA: THE STATE OF OUR NATION

http://faculty.missouri.edu/segerti/3830/APAStress2017.pdf

 

– Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17993252

 

– Oxytocin and Social Motivation

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3185363/

 

– Neurochemical and behavioral effects of green tea (Camellia sinensis): a model study

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23625424

The Effect Of Stress On Your Health And Weight

Have you ever found yourself gorging on a stack of cookies or a tub of ice cream while coping with a major deadline or relationship quibble? Maybe you own a small business and deal with the everyday stressors of keeping your brand afloat while striving for growth or maybe you are a mom, hiding in your closet eating chocolate and cookies and suddenly, one day, you realize your waistline has expanded. If you have been in any of these scenarios, know you are not alone.

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All content on InGoodHealth.co is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Consult your healthcare provider for medical advice, diagnosis and treatment.

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