De-Stress for Health
March 18, 2010 by Kelly Stallings
By learning to manage your stress, you can better manage your weight.
As women, most of us are good about taking care of our outside appearance. But to stay mentally and physically healthy, it is important to spend as much effort on the inside as we do the outside. Stress, if we allow it, can lead to mindless or emotional eating. Managing your stress can significantly assist you in reaching your weight goals. In today’s world, stress is at an all-time high, so managing that stress to maintain our health must become a priority.
Stress comes in four forms: environmental, social, physiological and personal thoughts. Do you recognize where your stress comes from? While you can control some of these sources to minimize stress, everyone has to learn to live with some level of stress as part of the human condition.
Regardless of the source of your stress, you can use easy cognitive behavioral techniques, such as the three listed below, to manage stress effectively and maintain a healthy body.
1. Laughter and positivity are the most important stress releases you can use. Both offer easy and immediate relief. Laughter releases natural feel-good endorphins in our brains. When stress levels are high, think of a really funny memory or movie that will make you giggle. Let yourself laugh out loud. This breaks the tension of the moment and creates cognitive dissonance (a psychological term meaning that you cannot experience two opposing feelings at the same time). Maintain positive thinking at all times and surround yourself with positive people. When you notice negative or critical thinking creeping into your mind, turn it around to improve your mood and coping skills. Our life experiences are manifestations of our thoughts and expectations, so keeping positive expectations will improve your reactions to life events. Maintaining a positive mood is the best way to avoid emotional eating. Bad mood, bad food decisions. Good mood, good food decisions. Test the theory for yourself.
2. Deep breathing is an easy stress management technique. Don’t let the simplicity of this technique fool you. Breathing deeply is both powerful and effective. It is also portable and can go unnoticed when used in public. Practice in private to become proficient with the skill. Breathe deeply so your stomach moves instead of your upper chest. If only your upper chest moves, you are breathing shallowly which increases anxiety. Practice breathing deeply and take three to four slow deep breaths before, during or after a stressful situation to remain calm. Maintaining control will allow you to avoid mindless stress eating.
3. Eat, drink and be healthy. Have you ever worked through mealtime without noticing it until you began to feel faint? Hunger and dehydration are unnecessary physical stressors that negatively affect behavior and reactions to life experiences. They also lead to binging behavior. Maintain a healthy balanced diet and drink plenty of water daily. Keep healthy snacks in your desk and car for those times when you are late for a meal. Eating a few almonds when you are running late for lunch can make a big difference in the success of your lunch appointment and the amount of food you eat. Staying hydrated and satiated keeps your thinking and behavior level so your body can more effectively manage stressful situations.
Utilizing these simple stress management techniques is good for your mind, body and weight.
Kelly Stallings is a licensed psychotherapist, speaker and author of Life Is Mental: Think Thin to Live Thin. Kelly’s book teaches an easy-to-follow mental formula for weight loss and healthy, happy living. For more information, visit LifeIsMental.com.