We all keep reading about how stress makes us pile on the pounds. Yes, stress causes stress eating and how that could lead to weight gain is evident. However, there are other mechanisms too via which stress can affect us. Read on to learn what they are.

Please note:

The idea of this article is awareness and education. What we are trying to do is shed light on the fact that stress is a precious emotion and you should be judicious in it’s use. If you do get easily stressed, don’t let this article stress you. Before you know it, you’ll read till the end and start stressing about how you stress so much and that would be extremely counter-intuitive. Anyway, back to our original topic at hand..

Some warning signs that point towards the fact that you may be stressed:

  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Neck and back pain
  • Mood swings
  • Memory problems and an inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Pessimism and constant worrying
  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Irritability, agitation and a short temper
  • Inability to relax
  • Sense of loneliness and isolation
  • General unhappiness
  • Rapid heartbeat

First of all, know that during stress, the body’s metabolic processes focus on immediate survival and functions of lesser consequence (fat-burning, for instance) are delayed.

A few things that happen to the body when you stress:

  • Hyperglycemia:

There is an increase in blood sugar and the body has to pump more of the hormone insulin to help get rid of all the excess glucose sitting in the blood. Eventually, the hormone insulin gets tired of working overtime and the body becomes resistent to it; a condition also known as insulin resistence

  • Extensive protein breakdown:

This means your body is shedding muscle because of which you could be losing strength and your skin could start losing its firmness. Protein breakdown and muscle loss also means accelarated aging. Do we have your attention now?

  • Increase in heart rate and blood pressure:

We don’t need to elaborate the kind of long-term issues this brings, do we?

  • Hormone cortisol is released:

Cortisol holds onto fat around the abdomen. Yes, it sends apologies to all of you. Cortisol’s effects can be detrimental if stress is prolonged—protein depletion in muscle, bone, skin and connective tissue

  • Immune system suppression:

You are prone to frequent colds and when you do fall sick, you would make an extremely slow, painful recovery

  • Lethargy and fatigue:

Going through days and weeks with everything seeming like a huge drag. We all remember feeling this way and wondering how to snap out of that phase. Well, less stress is your answer

  • Lowered Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR):

This means that the amount of fat you burn while inactive goes down too

Okay, now that this article has adequately stressed you out (aren’t we just a box full of sunshine?), think about effective strategies (non-food related) that work to de-stress you. Some tried and tested solutions we received after speaking with several of our clients:

  • Workouts
  • Quality time with loved ones
  • Spending a few hours each week/month doing social work for a worthy cause. Puts our own stresses into perspective
  • A unique hobby—gardening, foreign language, musical instrument etc.
  • Yoga and meditation

Feel free to share some ways in which you unwind and destress via the comment box below.