What Is Stress?
Stress can occur when life’s demands exceed your body’s ability to meet those demands. Stressors can be physical, psychological, or social.
The Human Response To Acute Stress
Acute stress is rapid and short-lived.
For example; if a mountain lion were to be chasing you, your body would respond in two stages.
- Alarm Phase: The sympathetic (nervous) system and Adrenal glands become activated.
- Resistance Phase: Three endocrine glands – the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal – coordinate to release hormones that allow the body to adjust to the stressor (mountain lion.)
Your Body’s Reaction To Acute Stress
- Increased Heart Rate
- Increased Blood Pressure
- Increased Respiratory Rate
- Increased Body Temperature
- Feeling of Anxiety or Nervousness
The Human Response To Chronic Stress
Today, not many of us are being chased by mountain lions and our stress has become much more chronic. When our stress passes the acute phase and becomes constant and overwhelming our body responds with a third phase: Overload.
3. Overload Phase: Body systems begin to breakdown from overuse and we become much more susceptible to weight gain, disease, and illness.
Your Body’s Reaction To Chronic Stress
- Weight Gain
- Muscle Loss
- Tissue & Bone Breakdown
- Glucose Imbalance
- Increased Appetite
- Carbohydrate Cravings
- Lowered Immune Function
How Stress Can Lead To Weight Gain
Chronic stress, dieting, and sleep deprivation cause a surge of hormone in our bodies called cortisol. Increased cortisol levels spike appetite and abdominal weight gain. Increased cortisol levels can actually reduce testosterone levels in both men and women, which decreases sex drive and muscle mass and causes an increase in body fat.
Our fat cells contain an enzyme called HSD. HSD is most present in fat cells around the abdomen but is also present in the brain and liver. HSD works to convert inactivated cortisol back into activated cortisol which promotes body fat storage, especially in the tummy region.
How To Lower Your Stress & Cortisol Levels Naturally
Learning how to manage your stressors can help lower cortisol levels, reduce belly fat, and decrease your chances of illness. Since eliminating stress can seem close to impossible, here are some stress management techniques to help get you started.
- Ditch The Diet
- Take Deep Breaths
- Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
- Practice Yoga
- Take a Walk
- Get a Massage
- Get Plenty of Sleep
- Establish a Support Network
- Believe In Something
- Avoid Smoking and Drugs
- Limit Alcohol and Caffeine