Thinking back to where I was about a year ago. I was COMPLETELY stressed out.
I was like you probably are now- ‘Yeah, Yeah -I need to reduce stress in my life.. I know..but how? What does that even mean exactly?’ When I was smack dab in the middle of it I just couldn’t see the light.
The periods when you wake up and the first thing that happens is that your mind starts racing with all the things you need to do. So many that you just don’t even know where to start first. The moments when you start one project, move to another and another and yet can’t get anything accomplished. That’s when you need to take a step back and PAUSE…
Easier said than done, right?
Well let’s talk about that. I mean it’s not just for weight loss but for your goddamn sanity and quality of life!! But let’s talk about weight loss first. Ready to get your science on? I’m about to school you on a key hormone – CORTISOL.
When it comes to weight loss and health you absolutely need to incorporate stress reduction.
Well for one chronic stress leads to excess Cortisol. Excess cortisol stimulates your appetite. If you never take a break from stress, these levels remain elevated and will trigger cravings for high fat, high carb, salty foods. (BEEN THERE!) Once you eat them, your body releases a wave of opioids- rewarding brain chemicals. This creates ‘comfort food’ addiction. If you don’t take conscious efforts to avoid this pattern, you can become physically and psychologically dependent on ‘comfort’ food to manage your stress. (Yup- been there too.)
It’s tough to break this cycle- but it can be done!! I’m living proof and this behavior stems back to my childhood years! I used food to cope with all the loneliness and crummy things going on in my life.
Here’s the thing- when you are constantly overwhelmed, discouraged and convinced that there is no way out of your debt, marriage issues, illness or work overload your body will be pulsing cortisol CONSTANTLY. Unlike the other stress hormones- cortisol’s effects are long lasting and super damaging to your body and mind.
Increased cortisol levels leads to ‘belly fat’ – which impairs brain function and lowers your immunity. This makes you more susceptible to everything from the common cold to cancer. Not to mention increase risk for heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
Over time, excess cortisol levels will break down your muscle tissue, your skin and bones! Think flabby, easy to bruise and osteoporosis.
Let’s talk about the damage to your life. How’s your mood when you’re stressed out? I don’t know about you but I get cranky, short-tempered and exhausted. I start to retreat into my head and worry about every little thing. Stress can cause an increase in self doubt, depression and can affect your ability to do things. Bottom Line – Stress makes you fat, sick and tired!!
So when I found myself feeling completely stressed out- here are some of the ways that I was able to reverse the cycle and get my sanity back and my waistline under control.
YES- it was uncomfortable at first. It was work to take a few minutes every morning and just BE. Not easy when your mind is racing about the gazillion things you need to get done – BUT WOW- so effective! 10 or 15 minutes is all you need. You don’t need to sit Lotus style- just sit in quiet and breath deep. Just BE. You can do this at night or in the morning. Hell- you can even do this in the shower. But taking a few minutes to breath deep and quiet the mind has been crucial to me.
2. Deep Breathing
I did this while meditating, driving or if I found myself getting all ‘bajiggidy’. You can even escape to the restroom and get few moments of solitude. Deep breathing will slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure levels.
For the record- here’s the proper way. Make it work for you.
Take a 5-minute break and focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.
- Reach Out
Talking through the situation out loud helped me sort out what I was feeling and helped me tune into what I really wanted and needed in my life. Just be sure it’s a person who’s not going to add MORE pressure to the situation. Phone a friend! Hash it out! Many times I found when I re-connect with my friends I haven’t seen (because I’m so busy being busy…) that they are having struggles of their own. Hashing out our struggles together helped make me feel heard and that I was not alone.
Last year, I was fortunate to have made a contact with a wonderful woman who is a Healing Activator. Talking with her was fantastic because she was completely removed from all the situations in my life and could just feed back to me what she was hearing from me. She had no vested interest in any matter so it was a wonderful way to have an objective sounding board.
- Laugh out Loud
Lighten the mood by watching your favorite TV sitcom or a really great movie. Hang with someone who makes you smile and laugh. Laughter really is the best medicine.
- Get Moving
Working out completely DE-Stresses me! I will walk into the gym feeling like 50 cents and walk out feeling like a million bucks. INSTANT attitude adjustment!! You don’t even have to go hard core- a simple walk will do. MAKE THE TIME!! You are worth it.
- Crank up the Tunes!
Nothing like some good music to change the mood! It can be soothing or upbeat- whatever you like!
Personally- I love club music. Love to run to it – love to dance to it. Hey – you can even knock out #5 while you’re at it.
- Be Grateful!
Yup- I said it. Be Grateful. Practice Gratitude.
When things start to spiral into chaos PAUSE and think of a way to be grateful. Work overloading- be grateful that you have work when many are looking and cannot find work. Find a way to spin the table – bills piling up. Be grateful for the services that those bills represented.
Better yet – keep a gratitude journal to help you remember all the things that are good in your life. Use the journal to savor good experiences like a child’s smile, a sunshine-filled day, and good health. Don’t forget to celebrate accomplishments like mastering a new task at work or a new hobby.
When you start feeling stressed, spend a few minutes looking through your notes to remind yourself what really matters.
Being grateful for your blessings cancels out negative thoughts and worries.
What is your favorite way to reduce stress in your life? Comment below and we can continue the conversation.