In today’s day and age, we are surrounded by an ever increasing range of stress inducing scenarios. One income families, work stress, credit card bills mounting, your son wants to quit school or the increasing tensions in the world on social media and the TV.
Regardless of the reason for your stress, it is hard to avoid. However for some people, the effects go beyond some anxiety and discomfort, making some people extremely hungry and adding weight gain to their list of worries.
Your bodies initial reaction can be a temporary loss of appetite and then from there can lead to a dramatically increased appetite and cravings for high carbohydrate and fat soluble food.
Psychiatry professors in San francisco have discovered that the problem lies within the neuroendocrine system, brain to body connection that once protected our ancestors. Although these days, an un-paid bill is more likely to cause more stress than being chased by a predator determined to eat us. However the same hormones are activated to generate the flight or fight response.
One of the hormones released is adrenalin, this gives us instant energy ( it is the one associated with super human strength in times of car accidents etc) Also corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH) and cortisol. Initially adrenalin and CRH suppress appetite however this doesn’t last long and soon after you become ravenously hungry. Add in cortisol who’s job is to help us replace the fuel that has been used in our time of stress and it hangs around for a long time. This effectively raises your appetite and drives you to eat more and more.
While this is fine when our stress in the form of Physical danger when we need to “fight”or “flee”and then replenish, it doesn’t work so well with all the other non-physical stresses that are about.
Often when we are stressed, we will sit and think about the cause of our stress, not expending any calories or food stores that we would have if we were physically being attacked. Unfortunately what most people do is turn to eating as a way to relieve the stress.
Cortisol also triggers craving for Salty, Sweet and high fat foods , Foods that give you energy as well as pleasure.
To stop this, you need to find out exactly what triggers your stress.
- Do you explain it as temporary – “I have lots of things to do right now.”
- Do you explain it as an integral part of your life – “things are always crazy around here”
- Do you explain it as part of your personality – “I have a lot of nervous energy”
- Do you blame it on other people or events or do you see it as normal and unexceptional.
And accept responsibility for the role you play in making or continuing it. Only once you do this can you start to look at ways of reducing it.
1. Avoid unnecessary stress
- Say “no”. Whether it’s in your personal or professional life, Learn where your limits are and stop taking on extra stuff.
- Avoid those people that stress you out – sometime things are better in small doses.
- Take control of your environment – If it stresses you out to read the news, then stop reading the news. Taking the kids to the super market is a nightmare, shop online.
- Avoid topics that will upset or cause arguments – if you know that you are going to get heated up regarding a particular political policy, avoid conversations that contain it.
- Cut down your to-do list – if you are constantly on the move and running around. it may be time to reduce those things you need to do.
2. Alter the situation
- Express your feeling – tell people how you really feel in an open and respectful manner.
- Be willing to compromise – you can’t expect someone else to change their behaviour if you yourself are unwilling to do it as well.
- Be more assertive – Don’t sit back and watch your life from the bleachers. Take control, deal with problems head on and do your best to anticipate and avoid them.
- Manage your time better – Plan ahead and allocate times for what is required and push those aside that you don’t have time for.
3. Adapt to the stressor
- Turn your negatives to a positive – try and take your stressful situation and look at it from a positive perspective. Are you stuck in a traffic jam or is it a chance to catch up on the new songs on the radio
- Look at the big picture – ask yourself, is what I’m stressed about really that important in the long run, should I be getting this upset about it, if not forget about it and move on.
- Adjust your standards – No-one is perfect, nothing is perfect, aiming for perfection is stress inducing. Just relax and aim for “good enough”
- Focus on the positive – When really stressed, take a moment and consider all the positives in your life. Also look at yourself and the unique gifts and qualities that you have.
4. Accept the things you cannot change
- Don’t try to control those things that cannot be controlled. – the behaviour of others is not something you can control, accept it as it is or avoid seeing that person if their behaviour annoys you.
- Look for the upside – every cloud has a silver lining. When facing a major challenge, look for opportunities for personal growth.
- Share your feelings – talk to someone, a trusted friend, a therapist, sometimes just being able to talk it out helps to alleviate the stress.
- Learn to forgive – Accept that life is not perfect, people make mistakes. let go of anger and resentment and move on.
5. Make time for fun
- Take time to appreciate you and do what makes you happy. Even if that means scheduling it into your busy day.
- Connect with others – Spend time talking to people around you, your kids, your partner, your parents, your friends
- Do something you enjoy everyday even if it’s only for 5 mins
- Keep your sense of humour- sometimes all you can do is laugh.
6. Adopt a healthy Lifestyle
- Join the 28 day challenges, grab a copy of the healthy mummy DVD, and just get out there and do some exercise.
- Eat well – pick up a copy of the 28 day plan, the spring and summer cook book and start cooking healthy food to share with others.
- Reduce your caffeine and sugar
- Avoid alchohol, cigarettes and drugs – they mask stress.
- Get enough sleep.
By working out what triggers your stress, learning to control it or change the triggers and learning how to deal with it effectively, not only will you be happier, you will also be helping your body as a whole towards being the healthiest Mummy you can be.