Does Stress Make You Fat? (Continued)
Stress...fat...an endless cycle? It may be a classic catch-22, but how do we put the kibosh on the whole thing? (continued)
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
- Apovian CM. 2010. The causes, prevalence, and treatment of obesity revisited in 2009: what have we learned so far? Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jan;91(1):277S-279S.
- Bastard JP et al. 2006. Recent advances in the relationship between obesity, inflammation, and insulin resistance. Eur Cytokine Netw. 2006 Mar;17(1):4-12.
- Ford-Martin, Paula. 2004. The Everything Diabetes Book. F + W Publications.
- Green R and G Turner. 2010. Growing evidence for the influence of meditation on brain and behaviour. Neuropsychol Rehabil. 2010 Apr;20(2):306-11.
- Gustafson B. 2010. Adipose Tissue, Inflammation and Atherosclerosis. J Atheroscler Thromb. 2010 Feb 3.
- Hartfiel N et al. 2010. The effectiveness of yoga for the improvement of well-being and resilience to stress in the workplace. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2010 Apr 6.
- Kuo LE et al. 2008. Chronic stress, combined with a high-fat/high-sugar diet, shifts sympathetic signaling toward neuropeptide Y and leads to obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008 Dec;1148:232-7.
- Mayo KR. 2009. Support from neurobiology for spiritual techniques for anxiety: a brief review. J Health Care Chaplain. 2009 Jan;16(1):53-7.
- Mujica-Parodi LR et al. 2009. Higher body fat percentage is associated with increased cortisol reactivity and impaired cognitive resilience in response to acute emotional stress. Int J Obes (Lond). 2009 Jan;33(1):157-65.
- Saeed SA et al. 2010. Exercise, yoga, and meditation for depressive and anxiety disorders. Am Fam Physician. 2010 Apr 15;81(8):981-6.
- Vicennati V et al. 2009. Stress-related development of obesity and cortisol in women. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Sep;17(9):1678-83.
Sprouts and Vegetable Salad Dijon and Tarragon Dip Wild Rice and Mushrooms Pancakes Tandoori-Spiced Game Hens Cajun Pork Chops Tenderloin Tail and Mashed Potatoes Lemon Creamed Frosty Zesty Grilled Chicken Pepper Steak Mediterranean Pork
As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the benefits that made it cost-effective for me to go with the real healthcare (HSA) plan rather than the phony (HRA) plan is that my company is now covering "preventative" medicines at $0 copay. The formulary for these, as stated by CVS/Caremark (my pharmacy benefits provider), covers all test strips, lancets, and control solutions. I dutifully get my doctor to write up prescriptions for all of my testing needs, submit...