We are always going to have stress in our lives, it is an important factor for survival, it is our natural instinct. If there is a fire in the back of the room, you are not going to continue what you are doing, your body takes over in the adrenalin response and you will either put the fire out or run to safety. It is important to push ourselves and step out of our comfort zone but spending too much time on the edge and not coming back to restore the balance by taking time to replenish our physical, mental and emotional energy reserves in the body can be detrimental to our health in the long term.
MANAGE STRESS FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Chronic stress can be very harmful to our health and wellbeing. But when it comes to excess weight on the body, it can prevent us from losing this weight due to increased levels of cortisol in the blood stream. This in turn causes a decrease in testosterone which leads to decrease in muscle mass, meaning decrease in metabolism therefore we burn fewer calories.
This decrease in muscle mass occurs naturally as we age but increased stress levels can accelerate the process. Cortisol also encourages the body to store fat, especially visceral fat around the middle area of the body, where the vital organs are. This can be potentially dangerous to the vital organs as it releases fatty acids into the blood stream thus raising cholesterol and insulin levels paving the way for heart disease and Diabetes Type 2.
It is not about having no stress, it is about relieving some to make room for more so it doesn’t build up and lead to burnout or chronic disease. Think of it like blowing up a balloon, if you add air(stress) and then more air (stress) and then release air (stress)etc this creates a balance but if it is being filled to maximum capacity without a release it will eventually burst. (Burnout and chronic disease) It is much easier to relieve some pressure than to put a balloon back together.
RELIEVING THE PRESSURE (STRESS LOAD)
1.Movement: When the body is moving with some form of exercise it releases the build-up of stress hormones in the system (THAT FEELING OF RESTLESSNESS) and transports them to the kidneys for excretion, which allows room for more stress. While also maintaining muscle mass for increased metabolism.
2.Eating a balanced diet at regular intervals: Strict dieting causes cortisol levels to rise, this in turn causes your blood sugar level to spike and drop, depriving the body of sugar, causing cravings for sugar and a vicious cycle continues. Start your day with a healthy breakfast with foods rich in B-vitamins(whole grains), magnesium, calcium.
3.Reduce caffeine intake, 1 a day if possible. Caffeine increases cortisol levels thus increasing the stress levels. Caffeine will also irritate and already inflamed digestion system.
4.Slow/mindful eating: When we are stressed or busy in our lives, we tend not to be present, eating on the go, standing while eating. When we slow down and chew our food and taste every bite and sit down to eat. This tells the body to rest and digest which means it is out of the stress response producing cortisol therefore shifting the stored fat from the belly area.
5.Get enough sleep 7-9 hours preferably. This is the foundation of managing your stress. Getting enough hours the body goes into a deep sleep and a healing process occurs. A study from the University of Chicago found that less than 6.5 hours sleep can increase cortisol, appetite and weight gain.
6.Mediation/connection: This may be just sitting in silence for 3 minutes and focusing on the breath. Anything that gets you out of your head and into your body. Walking on grass in your bare feet, playing with your kids or a pet, having fun or enjoying a meal with family and friends.
WHAT IS YOUR BODY TELLING YOU?
It is all well and good to make these changes when you are AWARE that you are stressed. But a lot of the time we are unaware, from my own personal experience and working with clients having so many symptoms like irritable bowel, stomach pain/gut pain, diarrhoea, back pain, shoulder pain, headache, disrupted sleep, bad breath, irritability, anxiety, hopelessness, depression, weight gain/loss, hair loss, dull skin, chipped nails. It is not until we step back from their lives and take a helicopter view, it is only then that they connect the dots.
Expressing your feelings: Emotional stress is the bigger drain on your energy reserves, if we are constantly in our heads, in the past or the future, worrying about the things we cannot change or the things that have not happened yet. Saying it out loud can help put it into perspective will relieve tension.
Our bodies will give us physical signs like little nudges that the body is out of balance and when these are ignored, eventually burnout will hit (adrenal fatigue).
If you are aware of some tell tail signs that your stress levels may be affecting your health or your quality of life and you are experiencing some of the symptoms mentioned above.
Please contact me for a free 30 minute Discovery Session, this will help you highlight the areas in need of attention and learn some techniques to reduce your stress load and start enjoying your life again.