Research shows that 46% of Americans are less careful about what they eat when stress is high. People are also more likely to eat quickly and binge eat when stressed. Chemical messages governing what, when and how much you eat function less effectively when you’re under stress, making it more likely to overeat and harder to tell when you’ve had enough.
The first sign of stress causes hundreds of biochemicals to be released in the body. Your body is bathed in stress hormones that speed up aging, drain emotional energy and give you a gnawing feeling of living only to survive, instead of flourish. Stress hormones depress your mood and make you less resilient in the face of life’s challenges.
At the top of the stress hormone list is cortisol, which is often called “the stress hormone.” Cortisol is important because over time, it can cause sleeplessness, memory problems, retention of fat molecules, and fat buildup in the arteries which can lead to heart disease and a whole list of other problems.
Cortisol converts fat into energy to help you cope with stress, but if you don’t burn it off, it gets redistributed around the waist and hips.
Negative emotions create increases in cortisol levels. Every time you feel anxious, worried or annoyed having to cope with a stressful situation, more cortisol is pumped into your system. Excess amounts tend to make you feel even more anxious.
When the body can no longer bear the extra load of stress, it makes adaptations to try to adjust to it. You can end up feeling exhausted and less resistant to immune system failures.
Fortunately, you have hormones that help you reduce and cope with the stress response and increase mood. Stress and your emotional state are highly linked to emotional eating. If you feel good and your stress level is low, you are less likely to overindulge. It pays to strengthen your ability to face stressful situations calmly, use stress relief techniques consistently, and meet challenges with a positive perspective. Cultivating a positive sense of optimism will do a lot towards combating stress and feelings of being overwhelmed.
So what about you? What do you do to keep your mood up and combat stress? Please share in the comment box!