On a scale of 1-10, how stressed out do you feel right now?
With everything going on around us, stress levels are understandably HIGH. And all of this added stress could be sabotaging your results if you’re not careful.
I’m going to dive in and show you why, but I’m also going to give you a few of my personal favorite strategies to help you put stress where it belongs.
So … on to stress. Our bodies have a love-hate relationship with it.
Some stress can be good for you. Our bodies are incredibly adaptable and can actually IMPROVE when under stress. For instance, during your workouts you place stress on your body and it gets stronger and fitter in response. Or when you work really hard on mastering a new skill, which is another form of stress, your body and brain respond by getting better at it.
This doesn’t mean that because a little stress is good for you, a lot is even better...no!
Here’s a quick rundown of what happens when you get stressed.
Let’s say you’re at work and your boss drops a huge last-minute project on your desk and you only have a day to get it done. First – awesome! They obviously trust you! But second – wow. How are you going to get it all done?
Stress to the rescue! Your body immediately releases a bunch of hormones to help heighten your senses to either attack the problem or run away. This is fine once in a while, but if it becomes a constant issue, as it did for many people during the lockdown this year, it can lead to real problems.
Have you been feeling the additional stress this year? Let me know in the comments, if you have.
Here’s why it matters. All those stress hormones – like cortisol and adrenaline – can cause a long list of issues in your body, including lowering your metabolism, if you have a lot of exposure to them.
First, thanks to the cortisol you can start to crave high fat, high sugar comfort foods. These fire up your brain’s “reward centers” giving you temporary relief from your stress and making it easy to slide into a pattern of overeating junky, processed foods.
But get this! A study done a few years ago found that women who ate a high-fat meal after feeling stressed out the day before actually burned about 100 fewer calories the next day. Plus, they had higher insulin levels, which promotes fat storage, especially in areas that are the worst for your health, like your belly.
So … what can you do?
The most important thing you can do is to BE MINDFUL and listen to your body.
Have you ever noticed how sometimes you’ll just be living your life, working or going about your regular business, and all of a sudden you realize your shoulders are incredibly tight, and you wonder how long you’ve been walking around like that?
Or that you’re breathing shallowly, which is another sign of stress?
Stress can sneak up on you over time, which is why it’s important to work STRESS MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES into your regular lifestyle! The amazing thing is that these techniques actually FEEL GOOD and leave you feeling recharged! Plus, they can help undo the negative effects stress can have on your metabolism.
This can be as simple as finding ways to work “alone” time into your day to recharge. This can even be listening to music you enjoy while you do the laundry or other household chores.
The key is to BE INTENTIONAL with this time and allow yourself to relax.
You also can experiment with breathing exercises or meditation. There are a ton of Smartphone apps for this and some fitness trackers also have a breathing feature. They really do make a difference!
Another idea is cutting back on anything that causes you a lot of stress. For example, if you find that scrolling social media makes you feel uncomfortable, unfollow accounts that make you feel that way! The same thing goes with news. If it makes you feel tense, stay informed, but don’t let yourself get swallowed up by the daily ups and downs in the media!
Finally, you know I have to talk about exercise, which can be a major stress buster. Exercising works several different ways to help you feel better and rev your metabolism! When you’re physically active, your body releases endorphins, which are brain chemicals that act as natural painkillers. Not only do these endorphins help cut stress, but they also help you sleep, which is another big stress buster. Plus, working out is GREAT for your metabolism, because all that physical activity helps you burn more calories.
That’s a quick rundown of how stress can impact your metabolism. Definitely worth the effort to work some stress management into your routine!
If you’d like to talk about your goals, send me a message and we will set up a time to chat Danielle@DoctorBeneFIT.net.