Thursday, January 23, 2014

Stress

In all my time blogging, I have never just written about Stress and how it relates to weight gain (and I will not really be discussing it now - more to come at a later date).  Surprising, since stress is an every day reality for most people.  Simply put, in times of stress or high stress, people may find it difficult to eat healthy, or they may eat for emotional reasons (stress eating).  The Mayo Clinic (http://www.mayoclinic.org/stress/expert-answers/FAQ-20058497) provides a list of stress management techniques to combat stress-related weight gain.

1. Recognize the warning signs of stress, such as anxiety, irritability and muscle tension.  This is a very good suggestion.  While most of us will shrug off a bout of irritability as just an in-the-moment annoyance, or some neck pain or lower back pain as work-related pain, it may be more serious.  Stop and think about whether or not these things have been happening more frequently for you.
2. Before eating, ask yourself why?  Are you actually feeling hungry, or are you feeling stressed out or anxious?
3. If you're tempted to eat when you're not actually hungry, find something to distract you.  If you're at work and there's a project to finish up, work on that for a little while longer before calling it quits, or if you're at home, find a small task to do, such as cleaning.
4. Don't skip meals, particularly breakfast.  This is something I am often guilty of doing.  It really takes some good time management to get me to eat something other than a granola bar in the morning.  I recently found a recipe on Pinterest for Potato and Egg Breakfast Bites.  The good thing about these is once you make a batch, you can refrigerate the rest and they take about a minute to heat up.  Good for those mornings on the go!  The recipe can be found on the Ella Clair blog: http://www.ellaclaireinspired.com/2013/09/delicious-omelet-and-potato-breakfast.html
5. Identify comfort foods and keep them out of your home or office.  This one is pretty self-explanatory and takes some willpower.  See those yummy m&ms when you're out shopping?  Avoid those like the plague.
6. Keep a record of your behavior and eating habits so that you may be able to identify patterns and overcome them.  Even if you write a couple of notes at the end of the day, or blog, or journal, it all helps.
7. Learn problem-solving skills so that you can recognize challenges and deal with setbacks.  This is something that I feel may not be entirely necessary.  As long as you can keep moving forward, setbacks are ok once and a while.  I think that reading and learning is our biggest tool when it comes to anticipating things about stress and weight-gain.
8. Practice things such as yoga, or meditation.  All relaxation techniques are good stress combatants.  Relaxation is the opposite of stress!
9. As always, the ever obvious technique, physical activity!
10.  Get enough sleep.  I have blogged about the importance of sleep before, you can read all about it here: http://sequesterednook.blogspot.com/2011/12/sleep-habits-negatives-and-some-tips.html
11. Things are almost always easier when you the have the support of family and friends.

All credit for this list of techniques goes to the Mayo Clinic (link above).  I just added my own commentary and thoughts.

On another note, if pictures are more your speed, here is an awesome infographic about how stress can affect the body.
how stress affects the body.
From: http://www.heartmath.com/infographics/how-stress-effects-the-body.html

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