If you’re worried about your weight, here’s a good reason to take it easy: too much stress on the body is a major source of weight gain and other health-related problems.
And that’s not just mental stress, either. Studies show that prolonged physical exertion — whether it’s not enough sleep or being constantly busy — can take a toll on the body in more ways than one. So, what does that mean for your weight and all your hard work?
Let’s Talk about Cortisol
Sorry to tell you, but stress doesn’t stay just in your head — or in your muscles, or even one place in general. Prolonged stress, whether it’s physically or mentally induced, has a hand-in-hand relationship with your body’s chief stress hormone — cortisol.
Cortisol controls how your body processes carbs, fats and protein, and it can reduce inflammation. But it can also ramp up your appetite, hold on to fat stores and break down tissue (including muscle tissue) for a quick source of energy. Its got a lot of power!
It’s no wonder that elevated cortisol levels can make it extremely difficult to lose weight, and even make you gain some. Over time, too much cortisol can produce excess abdominal fat, fatigue, irritability, mood disorders, insulin resistance and a weakened immune system.
All of this goes to say that if you’re not controlling your stress or giving your body a break every now and then, you’re not doing yourself, or your weight, any favors.
Get Some Rest, Get Some Sleep!
Ready to make a change in 2019? Start with prioritizing rest and sleep. If done effectively and frequently, you’ll likely notice a change in your lifestyle and perhaps even on the scale.
- Wind Down after work by taking at least 20 – 30 minutes for yourself
- Sleep in on a few or more weekends if you don’t have pressing obligations
- Recover from your workouts by taking a day or so off from structured exercise
- Move More to release endorphins if you feel a surge of stress coming on
- See a Counselor if you need help improving your mental health
- Get Outside every now and then to boost your mood, refresh and rejuvenate
- Remove Bedtime Distractions such as your TV or work laptop
- Create Boundaries between your professional and personal life
- Find a Hobby to put your energy toward something outside of work
- Say No if you’re asked to commit to things you don’t have energy for
While it’s great (and sometimes admirable) to push yourself hard in order to reach your goals, you don’t want to experience burnout. A healthy balance of work, rest and relaxation is the “secret” formula for long-term success that you can sustain. So remember, take it easy when you can!