Stress management is the best resolution you can make.
Moving into the New Year, many people often make resolutions to get their weight in check, when in reality if people do not get their stress in check, weight management will be terribly difficult to achieve. Good nutrition can help improve your overall mood, increase energy, memory, and help with sleep, but if you are stressed out, that is associated with negative eating behaviors.
What exactly is stress? Stress is the response from our brain to any demand. This can be good stress, which is called eustress- and bad stress, which is called distress. The intensity of stress depends on each person and how they see it and can range from mild to severe. Examples of eustress (good stress) can be planning a wedding or vacation or having a baby. Exciting stuff, but still stressful. Examples of distress are getting sick, losing your home or pet- you get it.
The short-term response to stress involves our fight or flight response. I always use the example of a bear coming at you and you are given the option to do one of two things- fight or run. In either case, your body is going to prepare you for the response by increasing your pulse and breathing rate, an increased immune response, and tensing your muscles in preparation to get yourself out of harm's way.
However, if you are in a constant state of chronic stress, those same chemicals that help with fight or flight response can lead to digestive and reproductive problems, as well as decreased immunity. In fact, people who are exposed to chronic stress are more likely to experience digestive disorders, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, viral infections, and hypertension (high blood pressure).
Not sure if you are stressed out? Here are some signs:
- Pounding heart/feeling like your heart is racing
- Jaw clenching; Teeth grinding
- Fatigue; Exhaustion
- Muscle tension; Neck/Lower-back pain
- Trouble sleeping; Insomnia
- Difficulty having sex
- Depression; Anxiety; Panic Attacks
- Digestive problems
- Weight gain or loss
If you, or someone you know, is in a crisis situation- the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK), which you can also use their chat feature at that number.
There is no way for us to know when stress will enter or exit our lives, but what we can do is try to control how we react to it. If we are able to take some time and reevaluate the stressors in our lives and make more time to relax and eliminate unwanted stressors, we can increase our overall health and immunity.