Scientists have known for some time that stress is related to weight gain. When faced with a stressful situation, our adrenal system is designed to release a hormone called cortisol, which regulates or modulates many changes that occur in the body in response to stress. Cortisol influences blood sugar levels, macronutrient metabolism, blood pressure, and the central nervous system, as well as many other functions throughout the body.
When cortisol is released, our energy, metabolism, and blood flow are all directed to support our survival instinct. This “fight or flight” response was necessary back when stressful situations may have meant running from a bear or other circumstances threatened our survival. Today, most of the stressful situations we find ourselves in don’t require this type of survival response. And while the secretion of cortisol is necessary to help the body deal with stress, it is vital that cortisol levels return to normal following the stressful event. Unfortunately, in our modern high-stress lives, the stress response is activated almost constantly, and the body’s hormone levels aren’t able to return to normal.
High, prolonged levels of cortisol have been shown to have numerous negatives effects on the body, including impaired cognitive function, elevated blood sugar and blood pressure, decreased immune function, and increased abdominal fat. This type of belly fat is particularly dangerous, as it can lead to high cholesterol levels and eventually heart disease.
Since stress is an unavoidable part of our daily lives, it’s imperative that we learn ways to lower our stress levels. The following 5 tips from Garcia Weight Loss can help you reduce stress:
- Do something active that you enjoy. Any type of physical exercise is beneficial, but doing something active that is also fun provides both a physical and a mental release. Maybe that means rock climbing or bicycling. It could also mean gardening or going for a walk with friends. The type of activity isn’t important as long as you get out and enjoy yourself.
- Practice deep breathing exercises. For five minutes every day, sit quietly and pay attention to your breathing. Breathe slowly and try to make your inhalations and exhalations the same length. If you’re feeling a bit more experimental, practice alternate nostril breathing, which helps calm the mind during times of anxiety or stress.
- Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is hazardous to your health, and will make it more difficult to deal with stressful situations. Try to get between 7 and 8 hours a night — whatever works best for you.
- Find something that makes you laugh. Maybe it’s your best friend or a favorite TV show. Maybe it’s this news reporter who’s scared of a lizard. Just make sure you get a few good laughs in every day.
- Learn your triggers and avoid them. If rush hour sets you on edge, try changing up your work schedule to avoid traffic. If having a messy kitchen makes you crazy, assign everyone in the family a task after dinner to help clean up. Control what you can, and learn to let go of the rest.
Garcia Weight Loss and Wellness Centers are committed to your complete well-being. We offer herbal supplements that help manage stress levels, as well as UltraWellness Labs that can help correct any chemical imbalances that may be contributing to stress. Contact us today for a no-cost consultation!