Not So Obvious Signs of Stress
Are you suffering from stress and don’t even realize it? Watch for these important warning signs.
1. You’re Eating More Sweets than Usual
Continuing stress causes the adrenal glands to constantly work and release stress hormones, which in turn causes our appetite to not only increase, but prefer donuts to celery sticks. The sugar boost makes us feel happy and can lead us to eating even if you’re not hungry.
The Solution is to stop and take a few deep breaths before reaching for sweets. This can help your body relax which will decrease your heart rate, and help you focus and assist you to make better food selections.
2. You Constantly Catch a Cold
Recurring stress disables your body’s natural self-repair mechanisms, because your body has been working overtime due to stress it hasn’t had any time to actually recover, leaving you vulnerable to every germ you encounter.
The Solution: Listen to your body when you feel under the weather and make time for rest and sleep. Switch to more moderate types of exercise like yoga, walking, and stretching to help strengthen the immune system.
3. You're Not Sleeping Well
Instead of having an undisturbed night's sleep, you are thinking about your day or waking up worried. Stress though can trigger the fight-or-flight mechanism making it difficult to fall and stay asleep. This results in not being able to concentrate, feeling tired, bad moods and wanting to eat large amounts of unhealthy foods; undermining your exercise goals.
The Solution: An hour before going to sleep try to relax by listening to music, stretching, reading a book, or having a bath. By establishing a pre-sleep routine, you're creating distinct relationship between certain activities and sleep.
4. Weight Gain
When you stress for long periods of time, cortisol (stress hormone) levels continue to rise and may remain elevated. If this occurs the body actually avoids losing weight, no matter how much you exercise or eat healthy. How does this happen? Your body believes you’re in trouble and you might starve, so it hoards the fat you eat and deposits it around the mid-section reserving it for the next panic-worthy situation.
The Solution: Don’t allow too much time to pass between meals. Extended breaks between eating can set the scene for sweets to curb your hunger but leave you empty one hour later. Keep your blood sugar levels stable with regular meals and snacks that focus on fiber-rich carbs (fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes) and lean sources of protein (fish, nuts, eggs, tofu, beef). This combination can actually help you feel full and keep sugar cravings away by keeping your blood sugar levels balanced.