The Relationship Between Emotional Stress and Weight Loss

emotional stress & weight loss

Stress is a major contributor to many health problems that is often overlooked. Emotional stress can be incredibly overwhelming and affect multiple aspects of someones life; from their overall mental health, to their sleep and even their eating habits.

Emotional stress; weight loss are inherently linked. Stress can make someone miss meals and make poor food choices; it can also affect the body's internal functions as it enters into its "fight or flight" response.  

When faced with danger the "fight or flight" response is initiated by the body as a way to protect itself. The body does this to prime itself for its next move; fight the danger off – or run for the hills. 

When experiencing stress, the body responds in a similar way; which over time can lead to weight loss.

The reason why? Has much to do with the release of the following hormones.

Cortisol - Which suppresses all the nonessential bodily functions so that your energy can be better spent elsewhere; and also has a direct influence if insulin sensitivity. 

Adrenaline - Which increases heart rate, blood pressure, lung capacity and widens your pupils – adrenaline puts you in a state of "readiness", but at the same time suppresses your appetite and desire to eat.  

How Stress and Anxiety Causes Weight Loss.

Stress and anxiety ordinarily go hand in hand, they are both mental health issues that can manifest themselves when we least expect it. Both can have a profound effect on our entire well-being, one of which being undesired weight loss or weight gain.  

Stress, Appetite and Emotional Eating.

Stress and emotional eating.  

For some, stress can come and go; for others, it can stick with them round the clock for weeks, months, even years at a time. Regardless of the period spent in a state of stress, it can leave you in a somewhat emotionally unstable state that can affect your eating.

Suffering from stress can leave you so mentally exhausted that eating becomes the last thing on your to-do list. Putting together well balanced, nutritionally dense meals becomes less of an agenda when suffering from mental tension caused by stress. 

Poor sleep.  

can stress and anxiety cause weight loss

Sufferers of stress often find it difficult to get a good nights sleep. This is usually the result of not being able to properly wind down, switch off and separate oneself from the days past – or the challenges of the next day ahead.

Lack of quality sleep is thought to adversely affect the bodies ability to regulate cortisol.

Excess cortisol in the blood can lead to an increase in insulin resistance, leading to weight gain and type 2 diabetes.

Deficiency, on the other hand, can lead to an increase in insulin sensitivity, which in turn, can lead to weight loss.  

Nervous ticks.  

A nervous tick; nail-biting, pen clicking, foot-tapping etc. Might seem insignificant, but all those little movements do eventually add up. Having a nervous tick is usually the result of a constant state of bodily tension; which without even realising burning hundreds of calories a day.

Burning more calories than what is consumed in a day is the basic premise of weight loss.  

The lead on effect.  

Usually, when a mental health issue presents itself, it is usually accompanied by others. Sufferers of stress can often feel depressed and anxious as a result of their mental state; this is known as "the lead on effect".

The reason why we stress eat or find it difficult to eat, might not be a direct result of stress, but instead, a symptom of another mental issue caused by the stress. Any imbalance in both someones mental state can lead to negative eating habits.  

3 Stress Management Techniques to Try.  

Stress is overwhelming and can take over someones life. Living with stress is not something that anyone should have to endure, and there are many small changes and adjustment one can make to help significantly and improve quality of life.

Here are 3 stress management techniques that can help you to break free from your stress.  

1. Identify the source of your stress, and make adjustments.  

Finding out the root cause of your stress is not easy and can not often be pinned down to one matter. If you can, however, narrow it down to say your job, your living situation or perhaps money troubles, you are one step closer to overcoming your stresses.

An easy way to do this is to write down a list of everything that makes you feel stressed; then next to each 'stress' write a solution. Jotting down problems, with back and white solutions can help you to overcome your stresses at the source. 

2. Practice mindfulness.  

The benefits of mindfulness are highly praised by those suffering from stress and anxiety issues. Mindfulness techniques include meditation, yoga, and breathing practices.

Mindfulness helps to manage stress by teaching your consciousness to be present in the current moment; not to be worried about the past, or anxious about the future.

Mindfulness practices are an excellent addition to anybody's routine.  

3. Make time for yourself.

why we stress eat

Making time for yourself does not mean sitting in a quiet room of the house and working on one of your problems. It means setting time aside to disconnect from the stresses of your life and focus on YOU.

Yes, facing your problems head-on is important; but so is occasionally locking them away for an afternoon whilst you enjoy something that you love. Be it spending time with friends, enjoying a glass of wine and a movie with a partner, or going to the pool for a few lengths – it doesn't matter what the 'thing' that you do it, what's important is that it enriches your life and brings you happiness.