By Cathryn Finn, RD, LD

Stress…Most of us, unfortunately, know this word a little too well. We all have experienced some form of stress in our lives, whether it be positive or negative. The positive stress can appear when we are expecting big life changes, such as getting married, buying a house, or starting a new job. It’s the negative stress that gets us into trouble. If the negative stress is prolonged, it can start to become detrimental to our health and even our weight loss.

How Our Bodies React to Stress

When we are stressed, our body releases the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is the “fight or flight” hormone, meaning it can slow down your metabolism to focus your body’s energy elsewhere, so in turn, weight loss might slow down or come to a stop. Cortisol can also increase your cravings and Ghrelin (the hormone that increases your appetite). For emotional eaters, it can be a tough battle when stressed.

Taking care of yourself in every aspect is very important for your health, but maintaining self-care when stressed can be the most important. Stress can be debilitating and make it difficult to concentrate or get anything done. Therefore, it’s important to find ways that work for you to relieve the stress you’re experiencing.

How to Relieve Stress

Get Active: Exercise can be a great stress reliever. Try to find an exercise you enjoy, such as walking, dancing, or yoga. People who exercise regularly have an easier time dealing with stress than people who don’t exercise. Exercise can improve your sleep, self-esteem, and positively change your mood.

Focus on Your Mental Health: Meditation and mindfulness can have great benefits. Take even just five minutes out of your day to do some meditations. There are many free meditation Apps out there that can be a great resource. Another great trick is to try some deep breathing. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and do some rhythmic deep breaths. Do this until you feel in control of your emotions

Get Enough Sleep: Getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night is very important when stressed. Sleep is vital for our body to repair itself and keep our immune system working well. Take a bath, read a book, or meditate to get yourself fully relaxed before bed. Try not to allow yourself to do any work or whatever is going to add stress to your day.

Keep a Journal: When you’re feeling stressed, writing down the emotions you’re experiencing can help you to process those feelings and know exactly what you’re dealing with. Really recognizing what is affecting you can be a good starting point to overcome it. Acknowledging your stressors can make things seem less out of control.

Self Care = Wellness

Stress is a normal feeling throughout life. Taking steps to relieve some of those stressors with these tricks will help make your daily activities easier. Keep reminding yourself that stress is usually a temporary feeling and that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.