Here’s what makes stress so unhealthy
Rushing to be on time for a meeting, being nervous about a job interview or a deadline at work. We all experience stress sometimes. But what is stress exactly? What does it do to your body? And why can stress be linked to obesity and all kinds of health issues? In this blog, we explain everything and give you stress-reducing tips.
What is stress?
Stress means external pressure. A bit of stress is normal and part of life. It keeps you sharp, helps you reach your goals, and making dreams come true. Also, when you exercise you give pressure on your muscles and joints. Thanks to that you’re getting stronger and more flexible. But when you push too hard for too long you can get injured. It works the same in daily life. Stress, certainly in the long term, feels uncomfortable and is harmful to your health.
What does stress do to your body?
Stress is a natural response of the body to danger. In pre-historical times it was essential to survive: you could fight or flee. These days the chance is slight that you’ll be eaten by a tiger, but our body works in the same way as thousands of years ago. This means that the sympathetic nervous system sounds alarmed in a stressful situation. Your heart is beating faster, your digestion is slowing down. Blood pressure rises so blood flows faster to your muscles. Your adrenal glands produce adrenalin to speed up body functions. And the cortisol level (the stress hormone) increases for an energy boost.
This is effective in an acute situation. And thanks to the parasympathetic nervous system your body will come down when it’s safe again. But in the case of chronic stress, cortisol levels remain high. That can cause more appetite, abdominal fat, and overweight.
How to recognize stress?
When you suffer from chronic stress, your nervous system and immune system will eventually be overstretched. That can lead to health issues like overthinking, overtiredness, sleep disorders, being overweight, anxiety, cardiovascular diseases, depression, and burnout.
What gives you stress?
That’s different for every person. It depends on how sensitive you are to stress. Nevertheless, there’re factors in general that increases stress such as a disturbing (work)environment, negative thoughts (overthinking), noise, and too much screen time. Also, nutrition, vitamins and minerals play an important role. Products like coffee, tea, and alcohol increase the cortisol level and cause stress to your body. The same goes for strict diets.
Why is it so hard to cut stress?
Firstly, because we’re not conscious about what gives us stress. In our rapid world, it’s accepted that we’re busy all the time. Our agendas are loaded with appointments and slowing down or just being silent feels unnatural. We’re always ‘present’ and 24/7 online. We reward productivity and hard work and there’s the fear of missing out. Also, our own standards are super high. We want a successful career, to be good partners and parents, having lots of friends and a healthy body. With that all in mind, it’s easy to feel stressed out.
How to reduce or prevent stress?
We probably don’t need to tell you how important stretching is after a sweaty workout. And like a car needs gas or power, you have to recharge your battery too. You need action and rest in your daily life. It’s about balance. Cutting stress completely is an illusion, but many things help to reduce it.
- Eat healthy: a healthy diet is key in handling stress. Start with a nutritious breakfast, eat enough protein, veggies, and fruit and stick to small portions.
- Exercise regularly: by moving your body you produce dopamine and serotonin, 2 stress-reducing hormones. Don’t overdo it though, because that can cause stress.
- Get enough sleep: sleep is essential to feel positive and powerful. A lack of sleep is connected to obesity. So a good night of sleep encourages the result of the sugery as well.
- Do yoga and meditation: yoga and meditation are known for stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. They bring ease to the body and mind and help decrease blood pressure. Also it makes you conscious about what you feel at this moment.
- Do breathwork: a calm breath is key to a calm mind. But a lot of people breathing shallow and high in the chest. This happens because of stress and sitting behind a desk and can lead to neck and shoulder pain.
- Explore your triggers: which thoughts do you have when you’re feeling stressed? Where in your body do you feel tension? By knowing your triggers and signals of your body, you can cut or prevent stress.
We love to help
Weight loss sugery is an intense journey. The surgery and the time around it can be overwhelming, emotional and stressful. Good preparation helps. So you’ll know what to expect and you can be more relaxed about the grand moment.
Know that you’re not alone, and you can always ask for help. Have questions or want to share something? We’re here for you. Feel free to reach out.