Stress is inevitable – there will never be more hours in the day, and your work and family responsibilities will always be demanding. Cortisol is your bodies’ response to stress – in small amount this is good however, when cortisol is chronically released from an over-abundance of emotional and physical stress your body reacts in three main ways that negatively affects fat loss:
- Cortisol Makes Cells Less Responsive
- Increased Inflammation
- Disrupts Hunger Hormones
Stress management is all about taking charge of your lifestyle, thoughts, and emotions so you don’t sabotage all your fat loss efforts. The bottom line is this, research has demonstrated that stress can contribute to the build-up of body fat as a result of the effect of stress on hormonal secretion and its physiological consequences.
Effective stress management helps alleviate the stress in your life, so you can be happier, healthier, leaner and more productive. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, health and fun, as well as the resilience to hold up under pressure when the time arises.
A few of the following five tips to manage stress are easy to implement, whereas others may take a little bit more planning. At the end of the day, the more you can incorporate into your life, the better your odds of managing stress for the long-term.
Identify the source of the stress:
While it’s easy to identify major stressors such as a new job or senior role in the same company, moving, or a going through a break-up/divorce, pinpointing the sources of chronic stress can be more complicated. It’s easy to overlook how your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors contribute to your everyday stress levels. Sure, you may know that you’re constantly worried about work deadlines, but maybe it’s your procrastination, rather than the actual job demands, that is causing the stress.
Healthy coping strategies:
In case you didn’t know – drinking alcohol, smoking, bingeing on junk food, procrastinating or zoning out for hours trolling through Instagram isn’t going to do much for lowering your stress levels. Personally I’m a list maker! Writing down tasks that need to be completed with the time sensitive ones at the top makes life much easier. If your methods of coping with stress aren’t contributing to your greater emotional and physical health, it’s time to find healthier ones.
Get Moving, frequently
When you’re stressed, the last thing you probably feel like doing is getting out and exercising. But physical activity is a huge stress reliever and you don’t have to spend hours in a gym to experience the benefits. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good, and it can also serve as a valuable distraction. Working out also helps to control both the increased inflammation from stress while also helping to improve your cell’s receptors for both insulin and leptin.
Manage your time better
Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. Plus, you’ll be tempted to avoid or cut back on all the healthy things you should be doing to keep stress in check, like exercising, socialising and getting enough sleep. Don’t over-commit yourself – avoid scheduling things back-to-back or trying to fit too much into one day.
Make time for Fun
You can reduce stress in your life by introducing more “me” time. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule and don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries. Finally, do something you enjoy every day – make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be pumping iron, playing your guitar, taking salsa lessons or in my case learning a new language.
Author: Jeremy Gwyer, Men’s Health Middle East contributor and Personal Trainer