We all deal with stress on a daily basis and stress manifests in different forms. Stress also causes people to gain weight.
Some experts think that as we encounter stress in our lives, a hormone called cortisol is released to help us deal with the stress. But when the hormone is released into the body, it can cause overeating. People think this is what causes the weight gain.
But it’s not just about the overeating. Even if the release of cortisol is the catalyst.
This is the process that really happens:
1. We start to experience stress and cortisol is released.
2. As we overeat, we start to feel badly about not eating well and keep eating badly.
3. Even though we know we should exercise, we decide that it’s pointless.
4. The cycle continues as we become an emotional eater who deals with stress by eating.
Here top signs that tell you it’s time to combat that stress:
Cravings While stress causes some people to lose their appetite, others crave chocolate or junk foods. Marion Tyler says the most common substances craved under stress are refined carbohydrates such as junk foods and fizzy drinks, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, which `give you a ten-minute lift but have a 20-minute dumping effect’.
Cuts and bruises Have you ever discovered marks on your body and couldn’t remember injuring yourself? Well, the chances are it happened when you were stressed. Marion Tyler says: `The body is equipped with a survival mechanism that works to ensure we don’t collapse under pressure. `The blood supply is redirected away from the skin to essential organs where it is needed most to combat stress. `The blood also thickens so that we don’t bleed to death in a crisis.’ As a result, you can cut yourself and bleed very little. Stress also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers, so that an occasional bump can go unnoticed.
Research has also shown that wounds may not heal as quickly when you’re under pressure. An American study showed that the wounds of women who were caring for chronically-ill relatives took 24 per cent longer to heal than those of a control group.
Hair Loss Dr. Daniel K Hall-Flavin, M.D. says that stress and hair loss can be related.
Three types of hair loss that can be associated with high stress levels are:
- Alopecia areata. A variety of factors are thought to cause alopecia areata, possibly including severe stress. With alopecia areata, white blood cells attack the hair follicle, stopping hair growth and making hair fall out.
- Telogen effluvium. In this condition, emotional or physical stress pushes large numbers of growing hairs into a resting phase. Within a few months, the affected hairs may fall out suddenly when simply combing or washing your hair.
- Trichotillomania. Trichotillomania (trik-oh-til-oh-MAY-nee-uh) is an irresistible urge to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body. Hair pulling can be a way of dealing with negative or uncomfortable feelings, such as stress, anxiety, tension, loneliness, fatigue or frustration.
Rashes and itchy skin According to dermatologist Dr Robin Russell-Jones: `A lot of common skin conditions like eczema become worse under stress. Hence, when people are on holiday, their skin improves. `And sometimes people itch and scratch for no obvious reason when under stress.’ Scratch an itch for long and hard enough and you end up with a nasty eczema-like rash.
Stress can also trigger the release of histamine, the chemical implicated in causing allergic reactions.
Stressed out skin The skin is the largest and most visible organ in the body so it tends to register stress fairly quickly. If your skin tends to be dry, stress makes it drier and if you are inclined to spots, stress will bring them out. For instance, under stress the body produces adrenaline, a hormone that can upset the balance of other hormones in the body, making acne worse and also causing flushes.
How to combat stress If any of these symptoms apply to you, you could be heading for overload. Therapist Marion Tyler suggests you start by accepting that some stress is inevitable and then put into practice the following techniques.
* Recognise your individual peak performance level, the point at which you cannot give any more.
* Act on your early warning signs either by relaxing or injecting some activity into your life, like exercise, yoga or aromatherapy.
* Recognise what winds you up and, if it’s not possible to eliminate it, learn new ways of dealing with it. Think positively about the person or problem that bothers you and refuse to be annoyed by negative comments.
* Delegate and prioritise or make a list of things to do in order of urgency and strike them off as you do them. Accept help and support.
* Learn to say no. Be more assertive and don’t be afraid of letting people down – sometimes you have to put yourself first. And don’t take work home with you. You’ll be more efficient in the office if you take time off to relax.
* Work Out Rev up those endorphins slip on the Inst Slim Muscle Tank, head to the gym and knock out stress. You’ll be glad you did.
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Stress Management Mayo Clinic
Shelia Livery Author of The Ten Secret Signs of Stress