Does Stress Make You Fat? (Continued) endless cycle? It may be a classic catch-22, but how do we put the kibosh on the whole thing? (continued)

Meditation Can Aid With Stress, Fat

Whatever it is, the writing is on the wall. Stress is bad for us — really bad. So if there's one thing you do for yourself this year, it should be finding a few ways to be more relaxed.

Other Great Stress Reducers
Yoga and meditation are proven stress busters, but you're better off using a multi-pronged approach to bring the level of stress in your life down a significant notch or two. Here are some other methods to consider.

Massage. They've done studies on the beneficial effects of massage, but research seems almost unnecessary here. There's nothing that more obviously reduces stress on the spot than a good rubdown. Just walk into any nail salon, and look at the faces of the women getting shoulder massages while their nails dry.

Make Mirth. Find every opportunity to laugh. Laughter reduces stress hormones, increases "feel good" hormones and brain chemicals, enhances your immune system's responses, and helps mitigate the damaging physical effects of stress. All that, and it's also just plain fun. And believe it or not, you can even benefit from faking laughter. Just as fake smiling causes the same physiological changes that real smiling does, faking a good laugh delivers health benefits, too.

A Little Perspective. View adversity as a challenge instead of a threat. First, find a way to make light of the situation. As Bill Cosby is fond of saying, "If you can laugh at it, you can survive it." There is almost nothing so horrible that you can't find a bit of humor somewhere in it. Then, if you feel yourself drifting into the "why me?" frame of mind, yell "stop!" (out loud if you can) and think of yourself as a comic book super hero facing a new challenge. What do I need to do to handle this? What is a strength I have that I can capitalize on, and tackle this challenge? What is one small thing I can do to make this situation better?

Connect. Social connections are not only important for the obvious reasons, but having a broad array of personal relationships is associated with lower levels of stress hormones, increased immunity, and overall good health. Studies have even shown that social connections decrease the risk of mortality. So reach out, make new friends, give people second chances. The more varied your list of social connections, the better.

Reviewed by Susan Weiner, RD, MS, CDE, CDN. 4/11

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Last Modified Date: June 21, 2013

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