17 Mar Emotional Stress Is Inhibiting Your Weight Loss
At some point in our lives we experience a form of emotional stress. For you it could be the time you lost a loved one, for your neighbour it may have been when she left her job and for your child it might have been the day she was bullied at school. It could be stress we are aware of or stress that is buried deep in our unconscious.
We’re not immune from experiencing emotional stress, but there are some who are better equipped to handle that stress. For others the stress builds up over time, becomes ingrained and often rules their lives. And even though the stress may have developed from decades of conditioning, for many they are not conscious of how damaging it has become to our health and wellbeing.
Emotional stress can increase your fat storage
If you struggle with emotional stress, there is a high possibility you’re battling with your weight too. Overtime, emotional stress begins to affect your cortisol levels in a similar way is does with chronic stress. As a response to the threat your cortisol levels increase altering your body to replenish energy.
This mechanism was extremely helpful to our ancestors in life-threatening situations like winter, where the temperatures dropped and food was scarce. Today though, when we are experiencing emotional stress, we’re not necessarily burning up calories and we certainly aren’t deprived of food.
As our cortisol levels increase, our body starts to store fat; fat that can be drawn upon during the winter when we can’t hunt for food. However in todays modern world food supply is constant so this storage system becomes redundant.
Supressing our stress with stimulates may make it worse
When we’re under emotional stress we tend to reach for stimulates to supress it. Tea, coffee, alcohol , chocolate and cigarettes are common things we turn to in times when we’re under pressure, feeling upset or struggling to deal with a situation.
These stimulates contain caffeine, theobromine, theophylline or nicotine which cause the body to release adrenaline. We get an instant energy boost in the ‘fight or flight’ moment, but unfortunately this may only be making the situation worse. Our digestive system slows and so does the repair and maintenance processes in order to channel the energy to handle the emotional stress.
While you’re putting on a Band-Aid by drinking a coffee so that you can cope in that moment, the prolonged stress is inflicting pain on your body. This is directly associated with diseases of digestion, increased aging and hormonal imbalances. Weight gain increases as you disrupt your thyroid imbalance, which in turn slows your metabolism to a sluggish pace.
The overstimulated body system will eventually under function.
Don’t diet, combat your emotional stress
Of course if you are consuming a poor diet you’re likely to experience weight gain. High sugar, high carb junk food won’t do anyone any good! But if you go on a diet and suffer from emotional stress, you’re not going to be able to lose weight and keep it off long term.
Your body is still going to experience the stress response, which will overtime lead to weight gain. Unless you identify and address that stress, you’re not going to achieve your weight loss goals. I know, it’s easier said than done. For some of you, the stress is deeply ingrained from when you were young and for others it’s developed quickly in a response to things like your current relationship, job or financial situation.
Regardless of how recent or ingrained your stress is, or whether it is present or buried in your unconscious, your body is going to react to it in the same way by going into survival mode. Working through your emotional stress and gaining the tools to better handle stress when it comes your way (because it no doubt will) will eventually help your body understand that you don’t need protection. Your body will come to recognise that you’re not experiencing a life-threatening situation and won’t keep storing fat.
It’s much easier to count calories than it is to face up to your fears and your insecurities. But when you do, losing weight will just be considered a positive side effect of living a stress-free lifestyle where your health and wellbeing is a priority. One thing that helps me deal with stress is meditation. Try it out, I have developed an app here to get you started – https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/mindfulness-guided-meditations/id1038791980?mt=8