Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Managing Stress and Your Weight

As women, most of us are really good about taking care of our outside appearance. We are good about doing things to enhance our outer health. It is important that we realize the need to spend just as much time and effort on the inside for a healthy mind and mood both of which relate to a healthy body. Unnecessary eating and emotional eating can develop from stressful situations. Managing your stress can significantly assist weight goals. In a world where most women work outside of the home as hard as they work inside the home, mental stress is at an all time high. Do you recognize the stress in your life?

Stress comes in four forms: environmental, social, physiological, and personal thoughts. While you can control some of these sources to minimize stress, everyone has to learn to live with some level of stress as a part of being human. Some physical signs of stress include: weight gain or loss, muscle tension, negative mood, hair loss, sleep disturbance, high blood pressure, shallow breathing leading to anxiety, and digestive problems.

Regardless of where your stress is coming from, work, family, self induced perfectionism…here are three easy cogntive techniques to manage stress effectively and maintain a healthy body.

1. Laughter and positivity. These are the most important stress releases you can use. Both are easy to use and offer immediate relief. Laughter has been found to release natural ‘feel good’ endorphins in our brains. When stress levels are high, think of a really funny memory or movie that will make you giggle. Let yourself laugh out loud. This breaks the tension of the moment and creates cognitive dissidence (a psychological term meaning that you cannot experience two opposing feelings at one time). Maintain positive thinking at all times and surround yourself with positive minded people. When you notice negative or critical thinking creeping into your mind…turn it around to improve your mood and coping skills. The majority of our experiences are manifestation of our thoughts and expectations. Keep positive expectations to improve your reactions to life events. If you doubt this idea…you are probably in a negative rut…test the theory for yourself.

2. Deep Breathing. This is the easiest and most overlooked stress management technique. Do not let the simplicity of this technique fool you…deep breathing powerful and very effective. Again this skill is portable and can go unnoticed when used in public. Practice in private to get proficient with the skill. Breathe deeply so that your stomach moves instead of your upper chest. If only your upper chest moves, you are breathing shallowly which increases anxiety. Practice breathing deeply and take 3-4 slow deep breathes before, during or after a stressful situation to keep yourself calm and in control. Keep control and avoid mindless eating.

3. Drink and Eat. Stress directly relates to physical health and weight. A major symptom of stress is over or under eating. If your weight or body image cause you stress, you might be tempted to reduce your calories to an unrealistic level. Hunger and dehydration are unnecessary physical stressors that affect our behavior and reactions to life situations. Maintain a healthy balanced diet drinking plenty of water daily. Staying hydrated and satiated keep your thinking and behavior leveled in stressful situations.

Manage your stress and maintain your healthy body!

To your thin thoughts,


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