With the holidays fast approaching, it’s easy to fly through the next weeks with an insane amount of stress pushing you through the start of the New Year. Being mindful of the stress in the first place, as well as how it affects our health and metabolism is the first step in helping us manage the intensity of the season.
Last week we talked about the vicious cycle that happens when you start to gain weight. The more weight you gain, the more demotivated you can become to lose it. This cycle can be a dangerous one that makes it too easy to keep adding weight and exercising less and less. After all, the way you feel and the way you perceive things has a big impact on your desire to do better. Your emotional and mental state, in other words, is often reflected in your physical appearance.
What is stress?
I mean, I’m sure you all know what stress is. But do you know that it doesn’t have to be from something that would objectively be viewed as “a big deal”? The stress you feel driving in busy traffic, for example, affects you the same way as the stress you feel when you’re turning in a late assignment at work. The stress from both situations can impact your health and can lead to undesirable side effects. With that said, there are a few different factors that determine just how much stress will affect your health:
In general, momentary stress—assuming that it really is momentary and only happens now and then—probably won’t have significant negative impact upon your life. On the other hand, if you experience stress that lasts for hours or days… well, that’s going to cost you. This is especially true if you find yourself undergoing stress often. Have you ever noticed, after prolonged bouts of stress, not only does it show in your appearance (poor skin, under eye bags, deeper wrinkles, etc.) but you get sick more often?
Stress & Weight Gain
Stress can lead to fairly significant weight gain. It does this in a few different ways:
Let’s take a look at each of these individual to better understand why managing stress is vital to maintaining both your health as well as your weight.
Stress & Your Metabolism
There were rumors a few years back that claimed stress actually increased your metabolism. Let’s take a second to put an end to that idea right now. Stress does not cause your metabolism speed up in the long run. While it’s fair to say that short-term stress might not impact your metabolism too much, long-term stress actually decreases it. It causes muscle breakdown due to the cortisol your body releases in reaction to stress, which will lowers your metabolism—and increases weight gain—if you experience stress frequently.