Is Stress Making You Fatter, Sicker, And Taking Years Off Your Life?
In the high paced world we live in, stress has become the norm. If you are not stressing, something is considered wrong… But can stress be what is causing you to gain weight each year, have less energy, get sick more often, and increase your chances for disease?
The truth is, yes, stress can cause all of that and more.
When you stress, your brain produces a hormone known as cortisol which is known as the “fat storing hormone” in the fitness industry. It doesn’t matter what kind of stress you are under; physical, relational, financial, etc. your body still reacts in the same way.
For thousands of years, the human body responded to stress in one of two ways: fight or flight.
I am sure you have heard this before, but our bodies produce the same stress now as they did 10,000 years ago. The only difference now is that we have far more stress in every aspect of our lives.
10,000 years ago, coming face to face with a tiger or bear once a month was about as stressful as it got. Now we have stress from work, finances, traffic, relationships, kids, exercises, etc.
According to the American Medical Association, stress is what causes 60% of all human disease and illness!
That number just blows me away. When you take a look at the chart below though, it makes sense why this number is so high:
As you can see, stress can affect many different areas in your life including weight gain, increase risk of disease and illness, decrease sex drive, and more.
As hard as it is to control stress, you must take the necessary steps in doing it. I know for myself, this is something I struggle with so I am writing this to myself as much as I am writing it to you.
Below are 5 different ways you can help lower stress and lower cortisol levels in your body. Taking these basic steps will greatly help in keeping you healthy and will allow you to live a longer, leaner life:
1. Get better sleep.
Research has shown that people who don’t get good sleep, are more overweight and have higher percentages of body fat. The reason for this is because the less sleep you get, the more cortisol your brain produces.
If you get a good nights rest, however, you allow your body to naturally produce hormones that will burn fat and get your leaner while you sleep.
Shoot for 7-8 hours a night.
2. Keep your workouts short and intense.
Yes, exercise plays a huge role in the amount of cortisol your body produces. When you workout, you are putting stress on the body. And research has shown that long, drawn out bouts of exercise cause a drastic increase in cortisol which can have a negative affect on your body.
So instead of going for a 45 minute run, try doing a 30-minute high intensity workout. The higher the intensity, the better as you will burn more fat and reap the benefits for hours after your workout is finished.
This is something I am hoping to start doing more of, but meditation has been something people have sworn by for years when it comes to lowering stress. There are hundreds of websites dedicated to stressing less and one I recommend checking out is ZenHabits.net.
Lots of useful information on ways to meditate and lower stress.
4. Utilize music.
This one always seems to calm me down when I need it. Some classical music or nature sounds just brings a sense of relaxation for me. If this works for you, by all means start implementing it more.
5. Don’t stress about it.
Seriously, don’t! Life is meant to be enjoyed. Don’t allow yourself to stress about the little things. Problems in life always seem to find a way of working themselves out. I am not saying you should avoid your problems and stresses, but I challenge you to take them head on with a new mindset.
In closing I would like to give you some next steps and challenges to take away from this article.
The first is to focus on cutting down your workout times to 20-30 minutes and allowing yourself to sleep 7-8 hours a night. Just changing those two aspects will allow stress to drop dramatically.
Next, start meditating or taking a quite time for at least 10 minutes each day. This is something I am going to try and do even though it will be difficult.
Finally, don’t worry about the little things. Enjoy life and see the best in all situations.
If you work on changing your stress levels, you can and will change your health and life.
So let’s stop stressing, and start living! Who’s with me?
P.S. Here’s some great resources to help you on your journey to less stress and a happier healthier life:
27 Habits You Can’t Ignore – With this book, you can easily start changing one or two habits a week that will start helping you live a better life.
Reset your diet, metabolism, and gut with the Total Wellness 14-Day Cleanse [I am doing this in February]