Stress can have adverse effects on all areas of our health, especially our body weight. Many people indulge in sugary or fatty comfort foods when they are under stress, significantly raising their calorie intakes and cholesterol levels. Stress also increases the body’s production of the hormone cortisol, which can lead to the buildup of fat around the abdomen.
In today’s hectic world, stress can become a chronic condition. Long term stress not only makes it difficult to calm down, but it also hinders our memory and concentration while we work. It is important to find ways for our bodies and minds to cope with stress, for the sake of our health and overall quality of life. If you feel overwhelmed by the demands of daily life, consider some of these suggestions:
- Exercise the negativity away. Regular physical activity decreases the amount of cortisol in your body while raising your level of endorphins—chemicals that create a feeling of relief and relaxation. Not only does working out diminish existing tension, it can also reduce your body’s physiological reactions to future stress.
- Express your anxiety, frustration or aggravation in a journal. Putting your thoughts down on paper can help you release the emotional weight caused by life’s stressful situations. Journaling also allows you to organize your thoughts and possibly find solutions to your problems.
- Try breathing exercises. For a few minutes, inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, hold it for a couple of seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. This is a simple technique that can be done almost anywhere.
- If you find breathing exercises to be helpful, you may want to look into meditation. You can teach yourself to meditate through any number of resources or you can take part in a yoga or meditation class. Though you may feel only minimal results at first, you could start to experience significant benefits in just a few sessions.
- Find healthy hobbies that help you relax and distract you from the daily grind. These can be as simple as reading, gardening, cycling, listening to music or any number of activities you enjoy. Taking part in these pastimes may not make your problems go away, but it will alleviate some of the physical and mental pressure they cause.