You've heard of these hormones: adrenaline and cortisol. You know, these are the stress, or "fight or flight," hormones. What you may not know is that when they are released into the bloodstream, it's their job to release carbohydrates (i.e. glucose) and fats for immediate energy.
You know, if a lion is chasing you, you need fuel, quick! Your appetite is suppressed as well because who would be thinking about eating while running for their life? Plus, all your blood and energy are going to the parts of the body needed to run and fight, not the parts needed for digestion.
Once you are safe and sound, your adrenaline dissipates, but your cortisol sticks around and it's like, "we need to replenish all that energy we just burned." So, your appetite gets boosted and you want to eat something. However, we aren't exactly running away from lions anymore. Most of the time, we get this reaction while sitting on our asses behind a desk or behind the steering wheel of a car. So, you didn't burn any of that energy your body just made available, and now your body thinks you need to replenish all that energy you didn't actually burn off.
Nowadays, we tend to stay in this fight or flight mode because we don't outrun and hide from what stresses us out in the first place, so there’s no relief, causing us to constantly pump out these hormones. This whole situation ends up being a triple whammy:
Cortisol makes you hungry.
You aren't in the mood to make the effort to make a meal or eat a big salad, so you go for convenient, comfort food, like those cookies sitting in the jar on the counter.
Insulin levels also spike as a result of all this, causing increased fat deposition, particularly right in your belly.
I could go on forever about all the bad effects stress has on your health, but let's just suffice it to say that you need to find a way to CHILL OUT! I know, easier said than done, but it's really important. We, as a species, but particularly as women, worry too much about everything. Take a deep breath and think, "Can I do anything about this situation?" If you can, then do it. If you can't, stop worrying about it - seriously! It really doesn't do you any good.
I know, you are probably saying, “What does she know? This isn’t something you just turn off!” I’m with ya, it's not that easy. However, there are some things you can do to help.
Exercise is key and effective in many ways. You've heard of endorphins, our natural "opioids," as I call them. They give you that high when you have a great workout. They also help relieve stress.
Just getting away from what's stressing you out for a short period will be helpful – a stretch, a bathroom break, a walk to the kitchen for a glass of water, can help get you away from the situation and clear your mind.
Try Breath of Fire. It’s a type of breath control used in Kundalini yoga that can help alleviate stress and simultaneously give a boost of energy. Click here if you want to know how to do it!
Meet up with a friend. Catch up over coffee or lunch, or meet up for a spa day.
Get a sitter for a date night with your partner. In the midst of being pulled by the kids, mom taxi duties and career obligations, you need to take time out to connect with that significant other in your life!
Whatever you do, it doesn’t have to be a huge, planned out thing. It can just be a few minutes away from what’s stressing you out to get your heart rate down and your breathing back to normal. Make it happen – you are worth it!
If you want more tips and tricks to maintaining your health in the midst of the chaos, check out my blog at www.heathermichellenutritionist.com/blog. You can also sign up for my newsletter!