There is a proven link between stress and weight gain, and so if your goals are weight loss, or maintenance, then it’s important to understand how mental anxiety and physical stress can affect it.
A great many things in our everyday lives create stress, and we’re also constantly reminded about how it is for us, both emotionally and physically, but it’s not as simple as that and some clear distinctions need to be made.
Eustress is quite literally a good form of stress that can increase our performance at a task as well as our overall happiness and sense of well-being. It’s not just a different type of stressor, it’s the positive reaction to stress that generates a desire to achieve and overcome a challenge. So, for example, the changes we put in place when we make healthy lifestyle choices, such as taking up exercise.
Distress, on the other hand, such as worry and anxiety, cause the body to release powerful hormones to combat it. These hormones provide us with greater energy and strength when involved in a physical workout. Then, during a recovery phase, the body lowers this hormonal level. Without a period of recovery, these hormones remain in the bloodstream and start to wreak havoc on the body.
There are very many negative side effects of ongoing stress – I’ve highlighted two that relate to our ability to control body weight :
- Increased release of insulin into the blood stream.
- Increased fat storage, often in the midsection of the body, so that it can be readily accessed when needed.
Neither of the above is healthy over the long term, and steps need to be taken to mitigate the effect of long term stress on both the body and mind.
Many studies have demonstrated that some stress, if not perceived as overwhelming, can be a positive thing. Consider the world of elite sport, and imagine how lacklustre performances would be without rigorous training, as well as the excitement and anticipation of the event itself. Perceptions of stress will vary from person to person, but ensure that you make time to kick back – it will benefit both your body and mind.