How stress could be adding to your body fat

Tax season just came to a close. Accountants, business owners, and pretty much all tax-paying citizens probably just breathed a collective sigh of relief. Am I right!?

No matter what time of year or season of life we are in, stress happens. In fact, stress can be the culprit for why you're not progressing in your healthy lifestyle journey. Here's why:

Stress can increase the hormone known as cortisol. Before stress became such a chronic and normalized entity of our society, cortisol levels were studied as the human's fight-or-flight response. Now that stress is a part of our everyday lives, that same fight or flight response is happening more often, causing the body to produce more cortisol than our bodies can handle (depending on one's stress level).

Overproduction of cortisol can lead to the increase of visceral fat which is that deep layer of stubborn fat that usually collects in the belly, thighs, hips and glutes. This type of fat threatens your health as it has the power to weaken your immune system and increase your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and anxiety.

When your stress leads to body fat increase it has the potential to place you in a spiral down position. It can cause you to stress even more, deplete your quality of rest, decrease your immune system, deflate your confidence and cause emotional eating habits.

Instead of potentially putting yourself in a cycle of stress related downfall, try being aware of your stress triggers and do something about it!

Here are a few tips to ensure that stress isn't taking over your life:

1) Take a deep breath.

No, seriously. Inhale slowly and exhale out. Day to day, we get so caught up in trivial details that completely bog us down. Sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the trees. After taking a deep breath, think about what it is that's bothering you. Can you fix it? If not, how can you make it better?

I try to handle things a moment at a time, or a day at a time. If something stressful slides across my desk at work, I think "What can I do today to make this more manageable?" I take as much action as possible to relieve any stress it's causing me so that I can start the next day with a new mindset.

2) Talk to someone.

Whenever I'm feeling stressed, it typically only gets worse if I keep it to myself. I think it's easy to see ourselves as wonder women who are independent and can fix it all. Don't get me wrong, you're pretty badass. But should you have to carry this burden alone? No way. Sometimes running something by another person gives you a totally different perspective and you may realize what you're stressed about isn't as big of a deal as you originally thought.

I'll admit, I'm a total worry wart who over-analyzes everything. Sometimes all it takes is for me to ask a friend or my husband, "Am I being ridiculous?" and they snap me back into reality. Don't be afraid to ask for help, it pays off in the long run.

3) Take time out for yourself.

If you're stressed, it's often because you've been burning the candle at both ends. You are probably working, taking care of your family and also trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Give yourself a time-out. You deserve it. Self-care can come in many forms: a bath, ordering take-out, a massage, or even just going to bed early.

Whatever your version of self-care looks like, make sure you practice it regularly. In the hustle and bustle of life, it's easy to make time for everyone but yourself. This is a huge cause of stress and can be avoided if you take time-outs every so often.

Last but not least, be easy on yourself, you're doing great!

And, remember, tomorrow is always a new day.



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