Most of us are juggling way too much and going through the day at warp speed, trying to get more and more done. By having a high-stress level, not only is it harmful to your health, it’s harmful to your waistline as well.
When you are constantly under stress, hormone levels, like cortisol and insulin are elevated. The elevation of these 2 hormones can sabotage your weight loss efforts and actually cause weight gain.
‘Feeling stressed can create a wide variety of physiological changes, such as impairing digestion, excretion of valuable nutrients, decreasing beneficial gut flora populations, decreasing your metabolism, and raising triglycerides, cholesterol, insulin, and cortisol levels.’ – Mercola.com
So, while you may think you can “handle it” as far as your stress level goes, we aren’t meant to be under constant stress and it takes its toll. If you are doing everything right as far as diet and exercise but you’re under stress every day, you’re not going to see or feel the results you want.
Tips for reducing stress:
Get Adequate Sleep:
This may seem like a strange place to start, but it’s so important that I’m putting it on the top of the list. Why? Let’s face it, when we’re tired we tend to make fewer healthy choices throughout the day and reach for the quick-fix energy boost we need, often in the form of sugar-filled options and processed snacks.
Lack of sleep disrupts circadian rhythms and can lead to inefficient body regulation of energy balance, metabolism, and appetite. Abnormal leptin and ghrelin levels – hormones that tell your body it’s full – can go awry when your body isn’t fully rested.
To get more sleep, set a goal of what time you need to be in bed each night to get the 7-9 hours you need. Try it this week and see what difference you notice, both in how you feel and your appetite.
When our body feels better our mind feels better also. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins – the chemicals in our brain that act as natural painkillers. This also improves the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
You can start with something simple like a 20-minute walk if you’re just getting back to an exercise routine. Look at ways you can add more activity into your day – a short walk during lunch, another walk after work perhaps. Maybe two 10-minute walks each day would work better for you, than one 20-minute walk. Find a friend or coworker that has similar goals and figure out something you can do together to help keep each other accountable. If you have taken a long break from exercising, don’t set yourself up for disappointment – have realistic expectations and be okay with feeling like a beginner again. It’s okay – just start where you are right now and build on it.
Meditation helps us relax. When the body is exposed to stress, we respond with a “fight or flight” response. We suddenly experience an adrenaline rush which results in the release of hormones (epinephrine). This cause in the increase in blood pressure and pulse rate, faster breathing and increased blood flow to the muscles.
Meditation is a simple technique that we can practice every day for at least 10 minutes. It can help us control stress and decrease anxiety. It also helps improve our heart health and achieve a greater way for relaxation. The relaxation response is opposite to the “fight or flight” response. It’s a state of deep relaxation in which our breathing, pulse rate, and blood pressure decreased.
Here’s a Meditation by Melissa Ambrosini
Nourish Your Body well:
Fruit and vegetable juices have long been known for their stress relief and relaxation properties. It’s worth the time to explore this as a healthy alternative to taking medication to relieve stress.
Apples, cherries, and blueberries have been known to be a good health boosting elements where the flavonoid can facilitate better lung functions. When your lungs function effectively, the ideal amount of oxygen is then able to be circulated within the body. And the result? Internal pressure is relieved and stress levels are reduced. These three ingredients can also contribute to relaxing the arteries and lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases which are often caused by stress.
If juicing isn’t your thing, then smoothies made from bananas, strawberry, peppermint, and lemon can all help to relieve stress and create an overall feeling of relaxation almost instantly. Bananas contribute to stress relief while the peppermint has a cooling effect on the body, creating an overall effect that will combat any significant presence of stress. Try and opt for your fresh juice or smoothie as a mid-morning or afternoon snack being prime stress times in the day.
Here are some smoothie recipes:
Manage Your Time:
Prepping meals is the key to staying healthy. When you find the time to prep your meal for 2-3 hours per week it’s less stressful than cooking meals every single day for an hour or two. Look at your calendar and see what day you can squeeze to meal prep. Consider the nights that may be typically hectic with kids’ activities, meetings or any other obligations you may have. Then think about what would be the easiest meals to make on those nights. For me, that means something in the handy dandy slow cooker once or twice a week. Or, you may want to double a recipe and have it ready to reheat on the second night. Another option is to double up your chicken for one dish and set half aside to add to a salad as your main meal on another night. Choose quick and easy meals when you know you won’t have much time to cook or maybe plan on those being your crock-pot nights.
Planning meals reduces stress because you have a solid plan for your week and you won’t have to rack your brain at the last minute to figure out the age-old question “what’s for dinner?”
- Easy, quick and healthy dinner recipes
- Weekly Menu Plan
- Weekly Grocery Shopping List
- Meal Prep Tips