The Surprising Link Between Stress and Your Weight

AVN’s resident wellness expert, Kerry Riley, helps you understand the connection.

Stress has become a common part of daily life for many people. From work deadlines to family responsibilities, the pressures of modern living can take a toll on our mental and physical well-being. And one area where stress can have a significant impact is on our weight and overall health.

Understanding the link between stress and your weight is crucial for those looking to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Let’s explore how stress affects our bodies and why, if you’re trying to lose weight, it can hinder your efforts.

The Stress Response:

When we experience stress, our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode, releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones increase heart rate, blood pressure, and energy levels, preparing us to respond to perceived threats. While this response is essential for survival in dangerous situations, chronic stress can lead to an overproduction of cortisol, which can have adverse effects on our health.

Emotional Eating:

Many people turn to food as a way to cope with stress, seeking comfort in sugary or high-fat foods that provide temporary relief from negative emotions. This emotional eating can lead to overeating and weight gain over time, as well as feelings of guilt and shame that further exacerbate stress levels.

Hormonal Imbalance:

Prolonged stress can disrupt the body’s hormonal balance, affecting appetite regulation, metabolism and fat storage. Cortisol, in particular, plays a role in increasing abdominal fat, which is associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Sleep Disruption:

Stress can also interfere with sleep patterns, leading to insomnia or restless nights. Poor sleep has been linked to weight gain and obesity, as it disrupts the body’s hunger hormones. This increases cravings for high-calorie foods and reduces energy levels for physical activity.

Lack of Self-Care:

When we’re stressed, self-care activities like exercise, meal planning and relaxation often take a back seat to more pressing concerns. This neglect can further contribute to weight gain and hinder weight loss efforts, as healthy habits are essential for maintaining a balanced lifestyle.

So, what can we do to mitigate the effects of stress on our weight? The key lies in finding healthy ways to manage stress and prioritise self-care.

If you’re trying to lose weight, addressing stress head-on and adopting healthy coping mechanisms will support your efforts. And of course, it will also improve your overall well-being. Remember, taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. Finding balance in both areas is key to achieving long-term success.

In Kerry’s recent webinar, An Accountant’s Guide To Staying Sane, she shared helpful tips to help accountants defuse stress and develop resilience – watch the recording in The Accountants KnowHow Club