You would be forgiven for wondering what this article has got to do with losing weight. But, perhaps if I tell you that the majority of people whom overeat (and are therefore over weight) overeat because of STRESS! So, today I ask you ARE YOU STRESSED? Let’s find out. Do you: Feel near to tears much of the time? Find it hard to concentrate and make decisions? Shout at people around you at home and at work? Feel tired most of the time? Have no interest in sex? Sleep badly? Feel stretched beyond your limits at the end of the day? Drink and smoke more to help you get through? Feel that you just can’t cope? Eat when you’re not hungry? Feel you have achieved nothing of value at the end of the day? If you answer YES to more than FOUR of these questions, you are STRESSED OUT. So, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. The first thing you need to do is recognise what is causing the stress and then find ways of changing it. Any major change in life, even if they are pleasant, can cause stress. It is when too many of these come together that there are problems. The next thing is to earn to recognise when your muscles are tense and when you are showing the physical symptoms of stress. When you are under stress, the body can react in a number of ways. - Your heart beats faster - Muscles tense - Blood pressure rises - Breathing becomes faster and shallower - The liver releases sugar, cholesterol and fatty acids into the blood - Adrenaline flow increases - Sweating increases - Digestion slows down - Feelings of anger and anxiety rise Needless to say that TOO many of these symptoms, TOO often, can seriously damage your health. How do we cope? You cannot wave a magic wand and make all the problems go away. But you can take time to sit back and take stock! Sort out the real problems from the not so real – to get things in perspective. Take a blank piece of paper and write down: - Exactly what is making you feel stressed - Why and how you can change it. - Make a list of things you have to do in order of urgency and then do things in that order. Be realistic – are there things you could strike off your list? - Take regular exercise. Gentle rhythmic exercise like walking or swimming is great stress busters. Don’t use the old excuse that you haven’t got time – you’ll think and work more efficiently in a less stressed state. - Don’t try to cope with stress by smoking or drinking or overeating. These things might seem to help at the time, but in the long run they lead to a lot more stress and poor health into the bargain. Especially when you are here at eDiets trying to lose weight, don’t add to the problem by eating when under pressure - try all these other positive actions first. - Set a limit on the number of hours you work! Do take time out for YOURSELF – time to “smell the roses” and enjoy your friends and family or your hobbies. - Eat regularly and healthy meals. Healthy eating can help beat stress, help you lose weight and help you feel great! - Learn to relax! Easier said that done you might say! Unfortunately we cannot COMMAND ourselves to relax. We have to coax ourselves and help ourselves to relax, and we have to set the climate! - Are you always on time, even when you don’t have to be? - Do you eat, walk, talk quickly, and even when there is no need? - Do you feel you have to be the best, every time? - Do you usually try to do several things all at once? - On holiday, do you find it difficult to slow down? RELAX! SLOW DOWN! DON’T TRY TO DO TOO MUCH AT ONCE! Try some relaxation exercises, which is one of the best ways of starting to relax, de-stress and slow down. - Sit with your feet flat on floor. Hands resting on thighs. Breathe in deeply and then release the breathe out. Repeat slowly several times. As you breathe out drop your shoulders and relax and make sure your teeth are not clenched. Close you eyes (if happy to do so). - Curl toes up inside shoes. Relax your toes and notice the difference. - Tense calf muscles – point toes up towards chest, relax and notice the difference. - Tighten thighs, relax and notice the difference.