If you go online and search the term “Stress and weight gain” or any assortment of those words, the results are less than encouraging. More than likely, you’ll find something along the lines of “Chronic stress leads to weight gain, depression, joint pain, etc.” and that’s just the tip of the stressed-out iceberg.
It’s not exactly difficult to find research saying that stress causes weight gain, but when has listing the symptoms associated with stress made anyone less stressed, anyway?
Whether it’s welcome or not, stress is part of our lives. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. We can think a certain way about stress so that it enhances us and boosts the changes we make to our lifestyle.
If a person is faced with a stressful situation, they tend to fall into one of two mindsets. The most common mindset sees stress as a threat that will cause them harm or cause them to lose something. The second mindset sees stress as a challenge that can be met or overcome.
Studies indicate that when stress is seen as a chance to grow and improve, people show increases in productivity, perform better cognitively, and have improvements to their health and well-being.
Problem solved, right? Just change the way you think and everything will be good to go.
The truth is that we can adopt this mindset, but it definitely won’t be done overnight. And just like any change you want to implement in your life, it’s helpful to see how you can integrate this mindset in small ways.
Start by simply taking a few moments once or twice a day (you can even set a timer on your phone) and take a break from whatever you’re doing. Notice if you’re feeling stressed. Right now, for instance, are you clenching your jaw? Is there tension in your neck or shoulders? Take a moment to breathe deeply and relax those muscles.
Once you get used to noticing your stress, think of patterns or moments in your day where you experience it more often. Maybe all that traffic you’re stuck in at the end of the day gets you tenser than you think. Or maybe it’s going to the store and having to navigate around junk food aisles.
Instead of thinking of these things as chores, try thinking of them as challenges or even games. Maybe you could see how many audiobooks you’re able to finish in a week during the time you’re stuck in traffic. Or you could challenge yourself to incorporate a little more variety in your cart than you did last week.
In a lot of ways, we’re programmed to think that stress is automatically a bad thing, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right mindset and enough confidence in ourselves, we can change the narrative of stress. We can grow and be better people because of it, instead of in spite of it.
If you’re in need of some de-stressing, we’ve got some tips for you on how to deal with stress.