Decreased immune system, lack of sleep, decrease in athletic performance, increased muscle tension or pain, and even chest pain are the physical barriers that we feel when we do not manage our stress levels. Stress even effects our mood. You may feel depressed, anxious, or be quick to anger. Stress also increases alcohol and nicotine consumption.
So, how are these symptoms we may feel almost everyday making us gain weight? The stress hormone, cortisol released from the adrenal glands is released when a person becomes initially stressed. This is the body’s response on how to handle stress. However, the cortisol levels should taper shortly after you’ve have dealt with a stressful situation. It is when the cortisol levels are maintained at an elevated level in the blood stream when a person begins to experience chronic stress.
Weight gain can come from the poorer food choices we make when we are stressed. Lack of sleep is similar to the cortisol hormone in that the body releases hormones when you are asleep. An inability of your body to produce and release these hormones at rest effects normal body function. Cortisol can affect your immune system by reducing the speed of lymphocyte production.
Stress is a vicious cycle that needs to managed. If you are feeling stressed multiple times a week you may need to participate in yoga, Pilates or Tia Chi class. Stop during your day to stretch your neck and shoulder muscles. Incorporate a deep breathing technique in your day which can provide immediate relief. More importantly find ways to eliminate stress in your life.
Ellen Waller, BS, AFAA