5 ways to reduce stress and help you to lose weight

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By Ilse de Graaf

Stress is one of life’s bad guys, not only can it cause heart problems but stress can also make weight loss much more difficult for many people. Extra life pressure or stresses can cause you to stress eat. Stress eating is a type of emotional eating, which contributes to an excess food intake and when done often enough causes weight gain. Not only is the excess food a problem, the types of food people crave when stressed are usually high in fat and full of sugar. Our bodies natural response to stress or natural defence is to produce more of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that promotes body fat and makes it harder to lose weight, especially around the stomach. Weight around stomach can often be the most difficult to shift!

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That’s not all Ninja, when you are stressed you generally sleep less. Less sleep, causes the hormone ghrelin to rise. Ghrelin is the primary hunger hormone (remember this guy? We’ve mentioned him before) which causes you to feel hungry even when you don’t need to eat. Did you hear that? You now have permission to sleep late without feeling guilty. For some people, stress causes weight loss, but not in a good way. For those people that lose their appetite weight loss is unhealthy and can cause dehydration, weakness and it even suppresses the immune system. Overall health is affected and this can continue to be a downward spiral.

Unfortunately with the world we live in today, stress is around every corner. It’s in your handbag, it’s in your front room, it’s in your office. Wherever it might be, below I am sharing 5 tools on how to deal with the stress in your life. No matter how big or small.

Learn to meditate
Meditating is no longer just for buddhist monks or hippies. The power of meditation has been taken into the mainstream and for a VERY good reason, it works!!! Spending even a few minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace and here’s the thing – anyone can practice meditation. It’s simple and inexpensive, and it doesn’t require any special equipment. In fact, it can be completely free if you choose. You don’t have to join and pay for a meditation class, try finding a guided meditation on youtube instead or there are so many amazing apps you could use. You can practice meditation wherever you are — whether you’re out for a walk, riding the bus, waiting at the doctor’s office or even in the middle of a difficult business meeting. Meditation brings short term stress relief as well as lasting stress management benefits. There are many different forms of meditation to try, each one is unique and brings its own appeal.

Go for a walk
Exercise is one of my most championed forms of stress relief and the great thing is, it can work in minutes. Taking a walk allows you to enjoy a change of scenery, which can get you into a different frame of mind.

So whether you just need to take a stroll around the office to get a break from a frustrating task or you decide to go for a long walk in the park after work, walking is a simple but effective way to rejuvenate your mind and body. Walking produces endorphins which is our body’s natural ‘happy chemical’ so not only does walking reduce stress, it also cheers you up. Going for a walk in green space also helps you to reconnect with nature. Getting outside regularly is super important, this modern world has us working indoors, living indoors and socialising indoors – sometimes we need to take time to reflect and go back to our roots in nature.

Do something artistic
Being creative may have been much easier for you during childhood, but if you’ve lost touch with your creative side, it’s not too late to find it again. If you aren’t into drawing or painting, consider other creative outlets like pottery, sculpting or even coloring in a coloring book! There are lots of adult coloring books on offer out there and for good reason. If your mind is focused on coloring or painting or whatever your creative outlet may be then you are no longer putting thought into the stresses in life. You are free to create and to relax. Creating art can often feel meditative.

Share with a loved one
A problem shared is a problem halved – isn’t that the phrase? Talking really helps. Keeping thoughts and feelings bottled up inside will just make things worse. Even if you don’t require another person perspective on something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share with them, the simple act of expressing your thoughts is enough. There is nothing more important than human connection, it is what we build our lives around. Modern life has become far too solitary, back before civilisation we would have lived and worked in groups and there is definitely something in that. You are not alone in this.

Go offline
Technology, technology, technology. Not only are we ALWAYS contactable but we are addicted to our smartphones. I mean, I have looked at my phone at least 5 times whilst writing this post (shame on me). It’s unhealthy, in fact I would go as far as to say it is a toxic relationship and you need to break up with your phone. Take the weekends as an opportunity to go offline, turn your smartphone off on a Friday night and don’t turn it back on again until Monday morning. I totally understand that this can be a scary thought and that you may need to be contactable, if that’s the case then you can invest in a mobile phone that can only receive calls and texts, that way you’re not tempted into the world of social media or world news but you can still be contacted in an emergency. A weekend without a smartphone will work wonders for you stress level, it will also give you the opportunity to reconnect with your family and friends in person and without distractions. You could take this even further and start to switch your phone off every evening, perhaps give yourself a 7pm cut off where everyone in the household turns off their phones and puts them in a drawer until morning.

Finding the best stress relief strategies for you may take some time and practice but it’s important to persevere and to keep looking for tools to help manage life’s ups and downs in a positive and healthy way. Managing our stress levels is crucial for our overall well being, not just for weight loss.

Which tip are you going to try first? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading you POWERful, strong and body positive ninja. You’ve got this! Don’t forget to join the #bodypositive movement on Instagram and share this blog post with your friends!

xx Ilse

Founder & Coach
Weight Loss Ninja