Lose the Stress Lose the Weight

Decreasing Stress: The New Weight Loss Plan

Stress Trigger: Too Little Down Time

A hectic life may affect your weight. Studies show that chronic stress can produce too much cortisol, a hormone that can ramp up appetite -- and lead to overeating. Stress can also trigger comfort eating.

For Relief: Encourage yourself to build relaxation into your days. Even 10 minutes counts. Flip through magazines, sit and talk, or take a relaxing walk -- anything to help you pause and switch gears.

Stress Trigger: Too Little Sleep

Too little sleep can make anyone tired and cranky. It also causes slowed metabolism and increased appetite -- risking overeating, unhealthy food choices, and inactivity.

For Relief: Get to bed! Set a soothing routine -- like reading a book -- and a regular bedtime that allows for at least 8 hours of sleep:

Stress Trigger: Money Troubles

When you’re stressed about finances, it just may be that you live with a subtle sense that something’s wrong.

For Relief: Be open about day-to-day concerns, but stay upbeat: “An out-of-town vacation won’t happen this year, but plan something fun around the house.” Let yourself know things are going to be OK in the long run.

Stress Trigger: Fighting/Arguing

When we fight/argue at home, everyone gets tense. That’s especially the case because our sense of security is based around the home.

For Relief: If you get upset from an argument between you and your spouse, acknowledge it. Remind yourself that everyone argues sometimes -- and what’s important is that you’ll work it out...later.

Stress Triggers: Stressed-Out People

When you see others struggling with stress, you can learn to respond to stress the same way. We tend to mimic how others stay up too late, eat on the go, or just get irritable.

For Relief: Learn how to cope by dealing with your own stress in a healthy way. Acknowledge when life feels hectic, and make a point to relax and take care of yourself.

Stress Triggers: Friends

As human beings, we base much of our self-worth on friends. Hurt feelings or being bullied can lead to stress eating.

For Relief: Be aware when your friends are “mean” or if they start acting irritably. Keep communication lines open so you know what’s going on in their social lives. If you notice excessive sadness or social withdrawal, talk with a health professional.

Stress Trigger: School/Work

In our competitive society, many of us can worry about performing well in class or keeping up in sports, work and other activities.

For Relief:Find activities you excel at or enjoy, and encourage yourself to try hard, keep practicing, and celebrate small successes. For schoolwork, keep organized -- such as making weekly lists and checking them off -- so you see and feel accomplishments.

Stress Trigger: Boredom

We all crave structure and stimulation, so having nothing to do can make us restless. Then we can end up making poor choices -- like eating junk food and spending too much time on the computer or TV.

For Relief: An after work program and regular physical activities for an hour or so each day can provide just enough structure to offer us healthy downtime in the afternoons.

Stress Trigger: Irregular Eating

Skipping or replacing meals with snacks makes it hard for us to maintain balanced energy all day. That can take a toll on our ability to focus on health. It can also cause excessive weight gain.

For Relief: Stick to three meals, and 2-3 snacks a day -- that works for most people. Plus, studies show that when we eat with the family several times a week, we tend to be happier and eat healthier, too.

Stress Trigger: Changes in Routine at Home

Any change in routine -- a new school, a move, a new job -- can turn our world upside down, stressing the entire family, too.

For Relief: Stick with a few daily rituals: meals at specific times, a standing workout time, or an afternoon walk. When we know what to expect, we feel more at ease, and so will everyone else.

Stress Trigger: Too Much Screen Time

TV or computer work may feel like down time, but screen gazing isn’t as relaxing as reading a book or talking with someone. Plus TV time often leads to idle snacking.

For relief: Limit your screen time to a max of 2 hours a day. And don’t allow eating in front of the TV because the distraction decreases awareness of portion size, feelings of fullness, and effective communication.

Stress Trigger: Multitasking

We may seem happy and calm while texting our friends, listening to music, and doing homework all at once, but multitasking is more tiring and stressful than you’d think.

For relief: Think about concentrating on 1 activity at a time and make a choice to do it. It’s a great opportunity to cut back on screen time, too.

Stress Trigger: Being Inside Too Much

We all feel better when we can get out in nature. One study showed that hospital patients fared better from just seeing trees from their windows.

For Relief: Plan a walk for daily fresh air. Going shopping at the mall? Park a few blocks away, walk to the stores, and when finished, stroll back to the car. Mission accomplished!
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