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Is Stress Making You Fat?


Did you know that the amount of stress you are under may have a direct connection to the size of your waistline? Research has shown that how you deal with everyday stress can affect your weight….in particular how much fat is accumulated around your waistline. Excess abdominal fat is directly related to serious health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.

What is the connection? When we are under stress our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. The fat cells in the abdominal area have more cortisol receptors than fat cells in other areas of the body, making them increase in size when we are under stress.

When we are under stress, the flight or fight response kicks in, leading to the release of various hormones. Our bodies are good at dealing with shorts burst of stress, we experience a burst of energy, a shift in metabolism and blood flow and other changes to help us respond quickly to danger. Problems arise when we are in a constant state of flight or fight…..this can happen when we are under stress from day to day life, work, kids, busy schedules, money worries, etc. If you remain in this state for a prolonged amount of time due to chronic stress, your health will be at risk. Aside from a host of other dangers, chronic stress causes weight gain, especially in the abdominal area because of reasons outlined in paragraph two.

There is good news though. Despite the fact that stress is an unavoidable part of life, there is something you can do about it. Studies have shown that people that make time for exercise have less anxiety and fewer related physical ailments than those who are sedentary. Physical activity is not only a great stress reliever in itself due to the endorphins (feel good hormones) that are released when we are active, but also the boost in self confidence and general well-being that you will feel will help you cope with any stress that comes your way.

In addition to exercise, other ways you can help manage your stress levels include:

· Sleep….probably the most important factor in managing stress. Get at least 7 to 8 hours a night in a very dark room with no TV, computer or phone. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every night.

· Get some ‘me-time’….. have a massage, sit and read for 20 minutes, take a long bath, whatever relaxes you. Make time to do something just for you.

· Write down your worries. Having them on paper can help you deal with them one at a time. When you have solved one problem, cross it off. Seeing the list get shorter is a great mental boost.

· Phone a friend….our brains process stress by going over and over it. The more times we voice it the better able we are to process and get rid of it. Also having someone else’s point of view may help you see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s true that a problem shared is a problem halved.

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