Nutrition Blog

5 Steps to Help Manage Stress and Weight Gain

How Stress and Weight Gain Can Be a Harmful Cycle

With September comes the change in season and new routines. No more lazy days at the beach or cold refreshing iced teas on your best friend’s deck. The kids are back in school and you feel a whirlwind of change around you as you are being asked to do more and more. You feel the pressure of trying to remember every single detail for every person in the house.

Did you remember to give Sally the extra boxes of tissue her teacher will need for the classroom? Did Johnnie have his EpiPen delivered to the nurse with the signed medical waiver or is that still quietly laying in the back seat of your car begging to be found?

Did your husband pick up the dry cleaning in time for your “make or break” 2pm presentation, or will you be scouring your closet for an acceptable replacement which is causing your throat to clench and your pulse to race.

Women tend to wear multiple hats during the course of one day, and they often find themselves doing everything for everyone and not enough for themselves. Some don’t even register that it is 3pm and they have had nothing but a dry bagel and coffee all day.

Many wonder why they can’t concentrate or lack the energy to continue their afternoon routines until they start seeing tiny stars and decide that an extra-large Mochaccino at the local coffee shop will do the trick. Which it does, for a moment, until they feel faint again.

Taking care of everyone else first, is like putting an oxygen mask on your fellow passenger before putting your own on in a plane that’s headed for a crash landing. Talk about accidents just waiting to happen. Of course, easier said than done. As busy working professionals, and/or mothers, the struggle is real, but the struggle gets worse if awareness around your own self-care doesn’t take center stage.

Burnout sets in, which can lead to excessive late night emotional eating, more alcohol to decompress, or sugar cravings that just can’t be ignored. Your weight starts to creep up ever so slightly and you start to feel guilty for eating cake at your best friend’s wedding last Saturday night. The cake and the alcohol are really not the problem–they are by products of burnout and exhaustion, stress or anxiety. Let’s try to put the focus on how to prevent the cause of burnout instead of putting a Band-Aid on the symptom. Prioritize your health and your needs in order to be able to be there for the other important people in your life. If you’re not “OK” they won’t be either.

Here are 5 simple tips to help get you started:

  1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Try to delegate tasks to others and learn to politely say “no” if you feel you cannot add one more thing to your plate. People will respect you and the boundaries you set.
  2. Schedule and block off 30 minutes each day to do something for you! Have a cup of coffee or tea while reading a book. Do your nails. Take a walk or a hike. Take some time to do yoga or meditate to help add calm and serenity to your day. You will be of clearer mind after the session for sure!
  3. Don’t forget to eat and hydrate! Set a timer to remind yourself to eat lunch or a hearty midday snack. It will keep your blood sugars leveled and your energy up and you will be less prone to crave sugary snacks or refined carbs.
  4. Try to notice if you are using alcohol to relax or decompress. If the answer is yes, consider looking at other ways to relax. The issues at hand will still be there after the alcohol is out of your system and alcohol can disrupt sleep that can lead to more stress, anxiety and emotional eating.
  5. If you feel you can’t juggle it all and you are on edge and frustrated, consider talking to a friend or seeking professional help. A neutral party will be able to help guide and refine your life focus, as well as keep you accountable with your goals.

If you’re looking for even more self care tips for stress-related weight gain, I found this article to be helpful.

Bottom Line: We are a product of our environment. A hectic crazy life can lead to frustration, exhaustion and steady weight gain as well as multiple health issues. A whole and happy “you” means you are ready to take on the challenges the day might bring because the focus isn’t on “doing it all”, but doing what is “realistic” well, without it being a detriment to your physical and emotional health.

Need help bringing more mindful eating into your life? I can help guide you on a peaceful health and weight management journey. View my Services page to learn more.

Voula Manousos’ writing is featured in the “Winchester Living Magazine” and “The Winchester Star” of Wicked Local.

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