How Stress Affects your Physical Health
At the start of every new year people across the world will identify and vocalize how they’ll improve and become better versions of themselves.
The top goals or resolutions set are: getting fit, eating healthier, and losing weight; with the ultimate goal of reaching their target by the summer time. In this article we will discuss one key factor interfering with achieving these goals or any goal you set to improve your physical health.
What Exactly is Stress?!
Stress is the body’s natural response to situations it deems as harmful or dangerous. When we feel threatened in some form, a chemical reaction occurs in the body that triggers a “fight or flight” response.¹ When you experience stress of any kind, your heart rate may increase, your breathing may quicken, your muscles may tighten up, and your blood pressure may rise; to help keep your internal environment safe from hurt, harm, or danger, while alarming you externally, it’s time to shift, change, or leave the scenario.
When cues are ignored, the long-term presence of stress begins to shift your internal system use of stress from protection to degradation.² Signs of this change may initially present as headaches or stomach aches. You may even experience changes in your sleep patterns (the lack of or too much sleep) or eating habits (loss of appetite or emotional eating). When overwhelmed by stress, it has the ability to influence isolation, depression, and anxiety.
Reality Check: Everyone will experience stress. It’s a common life experience, especially for teens and young adults. School responsibility, extracurricular activities, personal life, home duties, or negative experiences can all contribute to stress.
Little daily stresses can cause someone to seek comfort or distraction in food. We've all done it before....ya know, that moment you eat a whole bag of chips when feeling sad or eat snack after snack while stressing over an exam. This is called stress or emotional eating. Doing this frequently affects your weight and overall well-being.
The nutrition you consume impacts every inch of your physical and mental well-being. Did you know that food can impact how you manage your feelings, your energy, and your appearance. The link between your diet and emotions stems from the interconnected relationship between your brain and your digestive system (often considered your second brain)³
This is why it’s SOul important to develop healthy habits for managing stress.
If you are willing to understand what triggers stress eating and start making smart food choices, you’ll be taking the steps you need to improve your natural glow…inside and out, to attain your body goals!!
“Good health describes a condition of optimal well-being. That means the body and the mind, operating in harmony. Both are equally important when defining your health journey.”
- Dr. Deborah Fernandez-Turner
If you’re like most, you may find yourself reaching for “comfort food” when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, and/or depressed.
It takes time and real effort to release this habit and that’s okay!
Just ask yourself, how can I improve?
How to Break the Cycle:
Identify your stressors: If you don’t know or understand what your triggers are, how can you overcome them?!
The next time you find yourself reaching for food to comfort your feelings, ask yourself the following:
💭 Is this food positively fueling my body and providing nourishment to my whole self?
💭 Am I really hungry or am I only eating to feed my emotions?
💭 What emotions or experiences trigger me to eat when I’m not hungry?
💭 What could I do instead of eating right now?
You may also consider the following:
👉🏽 If you're bored or lonely: Call or message a friend or family member.
👉🏽 If you're feeling stressed out: Try working out, going for a walk, dancing to some feel-good beats, or reading an encouraging word. The goal here is to do something to lift your spirit and keep you on track to reach your summer goals
👉🏽 If you're tired: Rethink your daily routine. Set a bedtime that allows you to get enough sleep and turn off electronics at least 1 hour before that time.
👉🏽 If you're eating to procrastinate: Open those books and get that homework done. You'll feel much better when you do (Trust me I know!)
Learn to be present in the moment. Mindfulness is an effective tool that will help you combat cravings or overeating when you’re feeling stressed by calming your mind and body.
You are exactly where you’re supposed to be and now that you’re aware of how stress
affects you physically, you can make the moves you need to be where you desire to be.
It may take days or weeks before you start to feel the mood-boosting effects of better stress management. Life long transformations don’t happen overnight but the healthy choices you make each day will build on each other. In time, you’ll see the positive results in both your mind and your body.
Take a leap of faith by trusting yourself and allowing God to meet you each and every time!
Fuel Your Body. Feed your Mind. Feel your Spirit.
For Your Inner G
Stay connected with the FYIG community! Access amazing resources to help you explore your inner world for your outer gain:
For Your Inner G
The Simply Living Life Blog was written by Stanette D.
Stress and Your Health: From Vulnerability to Resilience
Dr. Fernandez-Turner, 2015
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