Stress can harm your health by impairing your immune system and promoting disease. A stressor becomes harmful when an individual lacks an effective way of controlling it. Stress is also a common reason given for overeating or emotional eating. Some individuals tend to avoid physical activity when they are stressed out, too. Therefore, it’s important to recognize the signs of stress and find ways to manage stress to promote fitness.
1. What is stress? Any mental or physical stimulus that disrupts the body’s equilibrium—it can be positive or negative. Any change that you must adjust to. It can be:
a. Environmental (noise, weather, traffic, time pressures, job performance standards)
b. Physiological (illness, lack of sleep, poor diet, aging)
c. Thoughts (worry, negative self-talk, fear)
2. Stress is revealed through physical and emotional symptoms:
3. What are the signs you use to recognize stress? Use mindfulness (practice being aware of stress symptoms since they often become unconscious) See above for emotional and physical signs.
Some Methods for Reducing Stress. You Are Your Wisest Counselor!
© 2004, adapted with permission, Kaiser Permanente Northwest Health Education Services, Cultivating Health ™ Weight Management Kit
When we remind ourselves of the benefits for changing, it can help us get back on track. Note the benefits for physical activity. Physical activity can lessen stress, control blood pressure, decrease resting heart rate, etc. But it also helps to deal with stressful situations be increasing your mental sharpness, concentration, problem solving skills, and creativity. Shifting our attitudes will also help us overcome our resistance to doing exercise.
Stress is also a common reason given for overeating or emotional eating. Two out of three people eat more under stress. Plus, we don't usually overeat vegetables when we're stressed (Did you notice that "stressed" is "desserts" spelled backwards?) You can make small changes over time to improve your eating habits. Do your best to choose foods rich in nutrients when you are under stress--vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, fat-free dairy, and healthy fats in moderation. Limit sugar, unhealthy fat, caffeine, and alcohol.
Exercise is like "mental floss". It cleans out the stress that is stuck in your brain!
What do you find helps manage stress for you?
If you find that you are experiencing CHRONIC STRESS PATTERNS, that is a sign that your life is out of balance. Perhaps consider: Do you experience overwhelming circumstances and can't achieve a healthier weight?