Did you know stress can make you fat?
Did you know that stress can make you fat? Yes, it’s true! Particularly around the middle, that dreaded “belly fat”. Most everyone knows that stress is bad for us. Maybe you even know that it is linked to high blood pressure, and heart disease. But stress can also make you fat. It has to do with a hormone called Cortisol.
When the body feels stress or anxiety, the adrenal system releases cortisol, which, coupled with adrenaline, is great for the “fight or flight” response in an emergency situation. The problem is that in our high-stress culture, our daily emergencies add up to no down-time for the adrenal system. And when cortisol levels remain high and are not allowed to return to a normal level, there can be negative effects on our health.
Prolonged levels of high cortisol can lead to heart disease and liver damage, higher blood pressure, higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), thyroid trouble, decreased bone density, a weak immune system, and as I mentioned earlier, even increased abdominal fat, also known as belly fat!
So how do we get our cortisol levels down and take care of our adrenal system? Avoiding stimulants like sugar and caffeine are extremely important but number one on the list is to relax. So along with getting more sleep, try these 3 tips to de-stress:
1. Take a walk. Just removing yourself from a stressful situation can help enormously. Add to that the fresh air, the Vitamin D from the sun and the endorphins that begin to kick in with some exercise, and you’ve got a mega stress reducer.
2. Take a warm bath. Warm water has been proven to relax muscles and relieve stiffness in joints. Taking a warm bath before bedtime enhances your ability to fall asleep faster. As a bonus, add some Epsom Salts to your bath – they are made of the mineral magnesium sulfate which is a sedative for the nervous system.
3. Spritz or rub in some lavender essential oil. In aromatherapy, lavender is commonly known as a mood balancing herb that has a sedative and calming effect. Fill a little spritzer with a few drops of oil and some water and spray in the air, breathe in the aroma and feel the effects. Or dab a bit of oil at your temples and rub during a stressful time.
Do you have a favorite way to de-stress? Post it in the comments below.
To your health,
Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach