Can stress affect my weight?
Stress has been shown by researchers to affect your weight in several ways. Not only can it cause a fluctuation in hormones within the body, but it can also cause us to behave in different ways. You might notice that you eat less during periods of extreme stress, or it could be the complete opposite and you comfort eating at the end of a long day.
Over time, the continuation of stress leads to a condition known as chronic stress. This can be when it really starts to affect your weight and your overall health.
When someone experiences chronic stress, it can raise the levels of cortisol (the body’s natural steroid), which in turn increases our appetite. If a person has been dealing with stress for a long time, or hasn’t found any meaningful coping mechanisms, it can lead to over-consumption, leading to weight gain. Stress can also lead to a poor quality of sleep which we already know can contribute to weight gain.
Stress affects the mind and body in several different ways, so it makes sense that it can affect your weight too. If you’re noticing that you’re eating more due to stress, it may be a good idea to sit down and identify what the stressors (the things causing you stress) are. Once identified, you can then begin to work on addressing the stressors.
It’s so important to address and manage your stress levels This isn’t just for weight loss, but for your mind & body as a whole. Some people find it helpful to use a mood diary or to write lists of their stressors. This can help in identifying any triggers that might cause you to feel stressed, as well as finding out why the stress occurs.
Often, identifying the cause of stress can be half of the battle as can then take steps towards managing the problem.
Top tips on how to reduce your stress levels or to feel more relaxed can include:
Exercise – it’s a great stress buster and it’s good for your body
Yoga – also great for building and toning muscles
Taking up a new hobby as an outlet
Reducing your workload if possible
Schedule some time for you to decompress and digest everything – read a book, go for a walk, or take a long bath – anything that helps to relax you.
If stress is having a major impact, you can seek help through either your GP or NHS backed charities. If you'd like to discuss stress, please get in touch and we can advise or sign-post you to the relevant help.