Stress is all too common today, and many of us take pride in “managing our stress well”, but more often than not, we just ignore and push away the emotions of stress instead of addressing them.
Today, we see stress as an emotional response, but when we encounter stress, our body responds physically! We pump out adrenaline and cortisol at the onset of stress, which launches the fight or flight response, and a cascading set of physiological changes.
Chronic stress happens when we are under stress for an extended period of time. Over time, many of us have gotten so used to having stress in our lives, that we forget or don’t realize it’s there. But, even if we don’t feel the symptoms of acute stress (like rapid breathing, an energy burst, and a fight-or-flight reaction), we can still be under stress. If you encounter many of the following, you may be under chronic stress and you may not even know it!
- Jaw muscle soreness, often from grinding teeth at night
- Digestive issues (constipation, diarrhea, heartburn)
- Sore and tense muscles
- Feeling dehydrated
- Feeling too tired to get out of bed in the morning
- Frequent headaches and migraines
- Appetite shifts (more or less hungry)
- Difficulty making decisions
- Dreading things that you once loved
- Increased sweating
- Decreased sex drive
- Getting sick more frequently
Lucky for you, their are tools that you can use today to de-stress yourself! Read on to explore tools that can help you!
The symptoms we mentioned above are just the tip of the ice berg. While those symptoms may not seem to severe, there’s a lot happening behind the scenes if you’re under chronic stress. The hormonal cascade that occurs from chronic adrenaline and cortisol is a known risk factor in many of the leading causes of premature death among adults, including heart disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and a poorly functioning immune system.
Stress also impacts your intestines and liver, affecting how well your body absorbs nutrients, which can directly affect your weight loss results. If your body is not getting all the essential vitamins and minerals it needs, it will not be willing to let go of its emergency reserves (fat stores), and your weight loss can slow down. On top of this slower fat-burn potential, your liver releases sugar into your bloodstream when you’re stressed, which has the potential to stop your fat burn and spike your fat-storing hormones! These short term effects of stress can slow or even stall your weight loss results!
So what can you do to lower your stress levels?
If you can’t eliminate your stressors, changing your response to stress is the number one way to change how your body reacts, and just like changing your diet, this can take time, and consistent effort. The most helpful tools that you can use to today are:
- Breathing Exercises: When face to face with a stressful situation, take 10 deep breaths before diving headfirst into old habits. By taking this pause you are naturally relaxing your body and telling your brain that there is time to react, that this is not a life or death situation and you can work through it.
- Meditation: Think of meditation like training for combat. You might not “need to meditate” each day, but engaging in meditation or breathing practices daily (even if just for 5 minutes), increases the likelihood that you’ll respond calmly during crisis.
- Exercise: Integrating physical exercise into your lifestyle can be very effective in relieving stress. Even just fresh air and light physical exercise, like a walk, can really help. Remember that this is supposed to be a stress release. If adding exercise into your day makes you more stressed or if you’re pushing yourself too hard, dial it back.
- Altering your diet: Your gut bacteria (yes, we all have gut bacteria, and that’s a good thing!) creates most of your serotonin and dopamine (the positive, feel-good hormones). By eating a diet with adequate amounts essential vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and water, your gut bacteria will be healthier, which can improve and stabilize your mood!
- Taking more regular and effective rest: Striking the balance between responsibility to others and responsibility to yourself can really reduce stress levels. Tell yourself that it is okay to prioritize self-care. If you find yourself saying, ‘I just can’t take the time off’, then you are telling your body that the stressor is more important than your health. Remember, you can’t care for others if you don’t first care for yourself.
There are a lot of stressors that you can’t control, but you CAN control your health. Our team at Awaken180° is here to help you reach your weight loss goals, while arming you with the tools and education to maintain your results, for life. Call us at 844-346-1800 to learn how we can help you!