Stress has been shown to be linked to illness and weight gain. High levels of stress also lead to overeating and make weight loss very difficult for some people. Some of the physical signs of stress include a rapid pulse, pounding heart, tight muscles, headache, stomach ache, indigestion, and interrupted sleep. Stress can also cause anxiety, sadness, anger, forgetfulness and loss of concentration.
Effective weight management will also include a stress reduction plan. Everyone is different and just as different people will find different situations more or less stressful, you have to choose which stress reduction techniques work best for you.
Some suggestions to help you manage your stress include:
- Manage your time and know when to say no to tasks or activities that will overwhelm your schedule
- Set priorities and complete your tasks based on their order of importance
- Delegate responsibilities when possible and ask for help when you need it
- Make “downtime” for yourself by doing activities which you find relaxing
- Organize your space as less clutter can be calming
- Get more sleep so you are well rested
- Stay hydrated
When you can’t control the stressful situation try to control your reaction to it. Practice these techniques and see which works best for you:
Deep breathing helps you manage your body’s physical reaction to stress by slowing down rapid breathing and heart rate
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
- Inhale slowly through your nose.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth.
- Repeat several times, until you feel relaxed.
Visual imagery along with deep breathing brings a peaceful image to mind to help relieve stress
- Take a couple of deep breaths
- Close your eyes and picture a scene in your mind that is relaxing to you
- Spend a few minutes imagining all the details of it including the sounds, smells, sights and textures
- Take a couple more deep breaths before you open your eyes
Meditation may help you clear and calm your mind – download an app on your phone or an online guide to get started.
Yoga may be your key to relaxing movement – try a class and pay attention to proper technique but remember yoga is a practice so take your time and don’t force any movements or poses.
Exercise has been shown to be an excellent stress reducer as well as helping you control your weight. Pick an activity you like and start slowly.
Optimism is a powerful. Negative self-talk and setting unrealistic standards can add unnecessary stress to your life so think positively.
Express yourself by sharing your thoughts and feelings with a friend or writing them in a journal.
Eat wisely. A healthy diet will help you control your weight and fuel your body to deal with whatever life throws your way.