Extreme stress can be one of the reasons behind weight loss. Since the cases of stress and anxiety related disorders are increasing day by day, thanks to the hectic lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits, there is a rise in the issue of weight loss due to stress. Excessive stress impairs the functioning of many of the vital organs that include the brain, heart, immunity system, stomach, and other internal organs.
It is also responsible for sluggish digestion and poor metabolic rate in the body. All this can contribute to an unnatural and unexplained weight loss. If you are suffering from weight loss and continuously shedding weight, then this article is for you. It will help you to cope-up with stress and avoid unusual weight reduction.
Signs Of Stress-Induced Weight Loss In The Body
Here are a few signs to look for when you experience unusual weight reduction in the body. If you relate to a maximum number of the below signs, it shows that the weight loss could be happening due to chronic stress in the body.
- stiffness in neck muscles
- mood swings
- pain in the chest
- sweating without any physical activity
- body pain
- difficulty in falling asleep, or changing sleep patterns
- loss of short-term memory
- biting lips, or nails
- increased rate of heartbeat
- reduced libido
- reduced brain performance
- reduced appetite
- tapping feet
In What Ways Does Stress Leads To Weight Loss?
Stress has a direct impact on the bodyweight of a person. However, the amount of weight lost varies from one person to another. This is because different people have different abilities to deal with stress. Some are good at managing it, while others can’t cope a little bit of it.
So, the question is how does stress cause weight reduction.
1. Causes Missed Meals
When a person is stressed, he may miss his meals and becomes irregular in eating. Such people are also seen to make unhealthy selections of food that deprive their body of much-needed nutrition.
2. Changes in Eating Habits
Stress directs all your focus on solving the problem. Due to which you show disinterest in all other activities that include food too. You may even forget eating food and pay less attention to your body. This is one of the reasons how stress impacts your food intake that, in turn, leads to weight loss.
3. Impairs Digestive Function
Stress slows down the body’s ability to digest and assimilate food and changes how these processes are carried out. This happens due to stress that damages the vagus nerve, that further impacts the process of digestion, absorption, and metabolism of food. This disturbance leads to inflammation in the body.
Due to the flight or fight situation, the focus of the body is directed towards mitigating stress. In this way, it slows down the metabolic rate and takes away the desire for food. This can give rise in intestinal distress such as pain in the stomach, acidity, constipation, diarrhea, inflammation in the GI tract, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and more.
4. Increases Calorie Loss
Health experts say that worries and anxiety tire your body more than physical labor. It is believed that four hours of anxiety, is equivalent to sixteen hours of heavy-duty labor. Any sort of mental task requires more energy, and fuel to accomplish it.
This is the reason why you would feel more exhausted, tired and drain by constant thinking than after performing any intense physical activity. This shows that your body consumes more calories when you are stressful and that leads to weight loss.
5. Engages You In Physical Overexertion
To many people, exercise is a stress buster. However, over-exercising can lead to the burning of more calories in the body. You may think it is a healthy distraction and a way to overcome stress, but internally your body is shedding undesired weight.
6. Increases Cortisol And Adrenaline Production
The increased secretion of stress-hormone “cortisol” often results in loss of hunger. This hormone suppresses digestive, and immune functions in the body. You feel difficulty in getting a sound sleep that, in turn, impairs the functioning of these organs to a great extent.
Along with the stress hormone, there is another vital hormone named “adrenaline” that is released. It prepares the body to perform dynamic activities that can in turn reduce your appetite.
Due to low food intake, high mental activity, excess hormone secretion, and poor digestion, a person would consequently lose weight. However, this is a temporary phase. Once you overcome stress, and your body returns to a normal state, you regain your body healthy weight.
Ways To Deal With Stress To Control Weight Loss
So, we have seen in what ways stress could harm your digestion system and cause weight loss. To effectively deal with the situation, it is important to learn how to manage stress. The following are some important tips that will help you manage stress. Once you have managed stress successfully, you will notice improvements in the form of a healthy weight, a healthy immune system, elevated mood, improved energy levels, and regular eating habits.
1. Figure out the Triggers
A different person can feel stress when subjected to different conditions in life. Look at your life and figure out the moments in the past when you have felt stressed, and anxious. It can also be a present situation that may be bothering you.
Those situations could be related to relationships, work, family situations, money or anything else. Recognize them and find ways to address them healthily. This way, it will prevent you from developing stress when you come across the same set of situations in the future.
2. Take a Deep Breath
Many of us do not realize the power of breath. It can control our emotions. when in stress, you would notice that our breath starts to become shorter, and faster. In those situations, you need to become self-aware and bring attention to your body. Start taking slow and controlled breaths for ten minutes, and you will notice significant relief.
Deep breaths release toxins, and supplies adequate oxygen to the body. You gain mental clarity and relief from anxiety and nervousness. Practice deep breathing whenever you face stress-causing situations in life. This is an inexpensive, and healthy way to get liberty from stress without any medical intervention.
3. Pen Down Your Thoughts
Writing is also an effective way to reduce stress. If you have not experienced the power of this technique in stress relief, then try it today. Write down all the pent-up feelings and emotions within you on a piece of paper. It can be hurt, resentment, anger, sadness, or any other type of unexpressed emotions that you have been hiding within you.
These can be the reasons for the stress. Writing your emotions is an excellent healing technique that can help reduce the heaviness within you. When you use this channel of expression, you will feel so light and freed.
Nobody knows you better than how much you know yourself. This implies that you have the key to manage your stress. Write down all your concerns. If you feel it can present a crisis in the immediate future, then take action. It can be talking about those concerns to the relevant people to arrive at a solution. If you feel that the concerns won’t cause any major trouble and would have no effect five years down the line, then letting go will help.
5. Keep Yourself Hydrated
Water is potent detoxification and cleansing agent. It purifies your body and eliminates the build-up of harmful toxins from the body. It is also a good way to reduce anger, and stress in extreme conditions.
Looking at the beneficial impact of water on our body, it is a good practice to keep yourself adequately hydrated throughout the day. Make an effort to drink ten to twelve glasses of water daily. Coconut water, buttermilk, sugar-free fruit juices, vegetable soups etc. are some great ways to stay nourished. Mint and cucumber-infused drink is effective in stress relief, and improving brain performance.
6. Eat regularly
You may not be interested in eating any more due to stress, but starving can deteriorate your health. You can fix a time of eating by setting an alarm. Make a conscious effort to regain regular eating habits. Begin by eating in small amounts. During this time, keep practicing the stress-relieving techniques. With passing time, you will feel relaxed and relieved from stress. This is when you can gradually increase your intake and return to the original state.
7. Eat mindfully
When you are on a way to recover from stress, eat foods that are rich in fiber, and proteins are ideal. Fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, seeds, etc. are some of the best inclusions in your diet. These foods can keep you fuller, and improve your mental state. Always consume freshly cooked meals as they have a positive impact on your mind and body.
Green tea, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, eggs, turmeric, fatty fish etc. are some of the mood-enhancing, uplifting and stress relieving foods that can help you in this condition. A healthy smoothie, shake, or juice could be a great way to start. It can help a lot in combating stress levels and keep your blood sugar under control. Consuming these foods will prevent further mood fluctuations in the body.
Refrain from unhealthy and calorie-dense foods such as fried foods, baked items, oily foods, spicy foods, sugary beverages, and foods, processed and refined foods, alcohol, etc. Avoid foods that are rich in sodium and fat content as they can aggravate your stress, and make you more anxious.
8. Supply Your Body With Adequate Nutrition After Workout
Some people feel good to work out when stressed. They feel a release of stress from their body. Though workout is a good way to manage stress you need to know that it is one form of stress to your body. You need to eat well to deal with this physical stress. Make it a habit to consume protein right after the workout. It will prevent your body to lose muscle mass and become undernourished. If you do not take adequate nutrition, your energy levels, blood sugar levels, mood and mental state will get disturbed. This will again cause weight loss due to stress!
It may cause you lightheadedness, nausea and fatigue. All this will, in turn, contribute to stress. To prevent this from happening, you need to nourish your body adequately. So, after when you workout, you should replenish your body with proper amounts of healthy carbs, amino acids, and minerals. It will help in recovering your body from the stress-induced due to workout. Post-workout nutrition will help you recover lost energy, and normalize blood sugar levels in the body.
Following are the best sources of high-quality protein and slow-digesting carbs that are ideal for post-workout nutrition:
- cottage cheese
- whole wheat bread with peanut or almond butter
- protein shake
- Greek yogurt
9. Socialize Yourself for Stress Relief
Work can be one of the reasons to cause stress. Sometimes a change in surroundings can work to combat stress. Travel to new places. Form new connections. Attend corporate events, and seminars. Expand your professional network.
When you come across new people, and exchange your ideas with them, you may feel great, motivated, and recharged. You may become more productive, creative, and more in charge of your thoughts, and emotions. Broadening your professional network will help widen your thinking abilities. This can go a long way in reducing your stress and weight loss caused due to it.
10. Engage In A Hobby Or Expand Your Skillset
Weight loss due to stress can be controlled by working on stress reducing methods. One important way by which you can beat stress is by engaging in a hobby that you like. It can be dancing, adventure sports, playing musical instruments, singing, cooking, riding your bike, painting, or anything else. These activities can distract you for some time and make you feel happy.
You may even join a class to learn any new skill. It will help stimulate your mental faculties and improve your perspective towards life. Meeting new people and sharing your ideas with them will make you feel better.
11. Get Assistance from Family, Friends or Doctor
Sometimes you may feel extremely overwhelmed with the feelings that are not possible to contain within yourself. Such an uncontrolled situation can lead to mental disorders like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia etc. To prevent your stress from reaching such extreme levels, it becomes necessary to reach out to a competent medical professional. He will get complete information about your stress and what causes it. Based on this knowledge, he will suggest remedial measures to control stress.
You should also talk with your family, friends, near and dear ones who may help you out with the problem.
Signs You Should Seek Immediate Medical Care for
If you notice that your weight loss is becoming uncontrollable, then it is a serious cause of concern. If you find that you have reduced around five percent of the total body weight in a period of six months, then do not delay in seeking your doctor’s assistance. In stress-induced weight loss, you will notice below signs that show aggravated stress that calls for medical help.
- a continuous unexpected reduction in body weight without making any effort
- severe headaches
- persistent pain in the chest
- sleepless nights
- bombardment of thoughts in the mind
- racing heart
- succumbing to drug, or alcohol addiction to cope up with it
- getting suicidal thoughts
- a frequent outburst of anger
Your doctor will do a thorough analysis of your situation to find the root cause behind these symptoms. Based on the examination, he will work out ways to help you healthily overcome stress. He may prescribe a treatment that involves medication, behavioral therapies, and counseling. These treatment will surely help you to deal with weight loss due to stress.
Stress is increasingly becoming a part of our lives. It causes a lot of destruction on both physical and mental levels. This becomes necessary to manage stress and adopt a happy and positive mindset in life. You can easily self-treat minimal stress-induced weight loss, but you should seek medical assistance if you experience a constant reduction of the above five percent of body weight in a small period. Your doctor will create a customized stress management plan, and diet plan to prevent this situation.
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