Whatever be the reason for your stress, weight gain is one of the important problems caused by it. One of the main ways this happens is that stress induces the release of hormones like cortisol which slow down your metabolism. Cortisol also makes you a bundle of nervous energy which can lead to eating more quantity of food than you normally would, so-called emotional eating or stress eating.
Added to this, stress increases your craving for sugary, fatty and salty foods and your gulping down such foods almost absent-mindedly contributes to the weight gain. If you are under stress you are also likely to be short on time not only because of the many tasks on hand but also because of your mental preoccupations, and you end up skipping exercise and substituting fast foods for healthy home-cooked meals. But take heart; there is a way around this problem.
How To Control Stress- Induced Weight Gain
The Short Run Solution
Become aware of your eating habits and exercise control whenever you realize that you are eating out of stress and not because you are hungry. One technique for such a control would be to distract yourself by engaging in some other interesting activity whenever you feel you are about to indulge in stress eating. If you find it difficult to control yourself, then try to substitute healthy foods for unhealthy ones.
Do not skip meals. Do not stock up on unhealthy foods either in the house or in the office, so that they are not within easy reach. Persuade yourself to exercise at least 5 days a week. The exercising need not be heavy duty stuff but only something as simple as taking a 30-minute walk.
The Long Run Solution – Manage The Stress In Your Life
In the long run, the above measures do not work unless you have tackled the very cause of the problem, namely, stress. So you have to manage and avoid stress at all costs. While a little bit of stress can be a good thing by making you optimally aroused to complete a task, the so-called eustress, but if it goes beyond a point, it turns out to be distress. Distress can be controlled by some simple measures like the following:
Exercise helps not only in the short run by making you shed the weight but also helps you fight the primary cause of your weight gain, namely, stress. Regular exercise can lower stress-inducing hormones, and is a relaxing diversion, to “let off steam”.
Hypnosis, biofeedback or meditation for 15 to 20 minutes a day can significantly release the tension and generate a feeling of peacefulness through detachment from one’s surroundings.
Taking time out for meeting friends and/or involvement with some voluntary societies can provide a meaningful engagement and a balanced perspective on life.
Identify And Deal With Particular Stressor
Identify what is driving you up the wall and come up with a solution, such as say more delegation of work. Improve your problem solving and time management techniques. If the problem is more on the personal front, try out discussions and dialogue, and be open minded.
If nothing else works, seek the advice of significant others in your life or even try out professional counseling.