Coping with Stress

Managing stress is a big part of healthy living. Stress can be defined as something different to everyone. It may involve family, time, money, health, pets, work or just making ends meet throughout the day. Often we get stressed out over responsibilities, obligations or pressures we place on ourselves on a daily basis.

In times of stress, your body goes into “flight or fight” mode. When this happens your body releases the stress hormones adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol. Hunger levels are decreased when adrenaline is present as your blood flows away from the internal organs to your larger muscles to help you defend yourself.

However, cortisol is left once the effects of adrenaline wear off. Cortisol increases blood sugar to help you fight off the stressor. Too much cortisol (think chronic stress) can increase your blood pressure, slow digestion, impair hormone function and decrease immune function. Ever notice you get sick after a stressful week?

Another way your body can be stressed is by eating a restrictive diet. Not eating enough is stressful for your body and results in the same mechanisms as the “fight of flight” mode.

Once the stressful event is over and our stress levels fall, our glucose levels remain high and that glucose gets stored as fat. Most notably visceral fat (abdominal fat).

How to Cope:

Don’t let the little things stress you out. Remember to breathe. Think positive and stay clear of negative thoughts. Don’t get caught up in a cycle of beating yourself up.

Here are some other tips to beat stress:

  • Make smart food choices
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption
  • Get enough sleep
  • Regular exercise
  • Meditate or practice deep breathing
  • Make time for your hobbies
  • Keep a diary of your feelings to help recognize the factors that trigger your stress
  • Talk to a friend
  • Spend time in nature
  • Unplug from electronics
  • Listen to a comedy routine or think of something that makes you laugh

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