Stress Less, Weigh Less:
Stress Management for Weight Management
by Michelle May, M.D.
Stress can motivate you to perform to the limits of your ability and adds excitement and challenge to your life. However stress can cause weight gain and make it harder to lose weight too. Effective stress management can help you prevent weight gain, lose weight and manage your life more easily.
What is Stress?
Stress results from your body's natural instinct to protect itself, the "fight or flight" response. The chemicals released by your body in response to stress can cause weight gain and make your body more efficient at storing and holding on to fat.
The stress response was important for your ancestors who were frequently faced with life and death situations. In today's environment, most feelings of stress are not triggered by life-threatening circumstances. Instead, stress is often triggered by your thoughts, perceptions and interpretation of life's events.
Face it. You live in a society that places many demands on your energy and time. This can create unrealistic expectations and a sense of urgency – common causes of stress. It’s important that you acknowledge and respect your own personal strengths and limitations. Let's explore a few options to help you manage stress and manage your weight more effectively.
Stress Management for Weight Management
Slow Down: Our society fosters the notion that we must see more, do more and be more and that can cause stress – and weight gain. Set aside some time each day to reconnect with yourself.
Be Present: When you’re going in several different directions at once, you become less efficient, less effective and more stressed. Instead, be totally aware and focused on the moment and on one task at a time.
Know Your Limits: Sometimes reducing stress means learning to say no, scaling back your responsibilities and doing less.
Express Your Feelings: Keeping things bottled up inside is a major source of stress for many people. Communicate your desire for change in specific, direct and positive terms.
Physical Activity: You knew this was coming! Exercise helps you decrease stress and lose weight.
Have Fun: Playtime is very important yet is usually the first to go when you’re busy. Look for opportunities to laugh and relax.Relaxation Techniques: Deep breathing, progressive relaxation, mini-vacations and simple stillness are great for helping you de-stress, anytime, anyplace (for details see I'm NOT Hungry - What Now?). Try this simple deep breathing exercise right now to decrease stress and see how much better you can feel within minutes:
Slowly take a deep breath, following the air with your attention as it goes in.
Exhale slowly, taking twice as long to exhale as it took to inhale.
Try breathing in through your nose, out through your mouth.
Count slowly to 5 as you inhale, 10 as you exhale.
Every time you exhale, pause for a second to stay conscious of your breathing. Let your shoulders droop and feel yourself relax more with each breath.
Repeat this several times.
Don’t let stress cause weight gain. There are as many stress management techniques as there are sources of stress. Make the commitment to consistently decrease stress to lose weight and improve your health and the quality of your life.
Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yoyo dieter and the award winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle (download the first chapter free). She conducts corporate workshops and speaks throughout the country on mindful eating and vibrant living. Do you struggle with Head Hunger? Discover what you need to know to change your destructive patterns for good in these nine “easy-to-read over a cup of coffee” e-book chapters from I'm NOT Hungry - What Now? including more great stress management techniques.
Copyright Michelle May, M.D. This article may be reprinted in its entirety as long as author bio and website link are included.