Stress and its Impact on Everything (Including Weight)

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Stress and its Impact on Everything (Including Weight)

Kate Wells . August 24, 2020


Primitive humans relied on the “Fight or Flight” stress response to survive by either attacking a predator or running away. The stress response continues to provide the ability to quickly respond to a physical threat, such as an attack by bear. Unfortunately, it is also triggered by mental and emotional threats, as experienced daily in the forms of job pressure, financial and health issues, etc. No matter what the threat, physical or mental, the fight or flight stress response is the same and causes a physiological chain reaction to prepare the body to deal with the perceived “danger.”

Stresses Impact on Health, Weight and Cortisol Levels

As a short-burst response, the fight or flight stress response helps people survive physical threats and provides a burst of energy. As a long-term response to the constant mental and emotional stress in modern life, the physiological chain of events is highly toxic and damaging to the body. The result is damage to all the systems and organs including creating excess cortisol, a hormone that is released in excess into the system during the stress response and can negatively undermine weight reduction. When the fight or flight response is triggered or constantly turned on, the excess cortisol informs the body that it is not safe and prepares it to run or fight. The body then holds onto any fat reserves and calories which it may need to use to survive the attack. That comes in handy when you need to physically protect yourself or run, but it can undermine all your good efforts in reducing body weight. By holding onto the excess weight when the body’s stress response is activated frequently, or because it is constantly in the “on” position produces an over-abundance of cortisol. Elevated cortisol suppresses the immune system and has been linked to the accumulation of abdominal fat.

Turn Stress Off

It is important to learn to turn off the stress response.

Because society bombards people with mental and emotional threats, it is important for our health and weight reduction to learn to relax, and by doing so, turn off the fight or flight response. The fight or flight response is not helpful for most mental and emotional difficulties and is counter-indicated for weight reduction.

Creating a change in the stress response to emotional and mental upset can be achieved through relaxation techniques. Learning to respond with calm and clarity is beneficial for health, focus, productivity, and weight reduction, as well as producing insight and perspective that is not possible under stress.

Creating a daily practice of relaxation helps us to respond to stress in a more healthful and beneficial way. Below are self-hypnosis relaxation techniques for you to try. Other beneficial relaxation options are meditation, yoga, deep breathing, exercise, and prayer.

Progressive Relaxation Self-Hypnosis

Find a comfortable place where you can safely close your eyes to begin your relaxation. Bring your awareness to your breath and take 3 to 5 deep breaths, allowing your body to relax a little bit more with each exhale. Then bring your awareness to your feet and imagine that you can relax your feet. Work your way slowly up your body, focusing on each area of the body and imagining you are relaxing that area, e.g. focus on your feet then take a deep breath and relax your feet, now do the same with the ankles, then calves and shins, knees, upper legs…..all the way to the top of your head. Take your time and focus on each area.  You may also find it helpful to imagine any tension or tightness leaving each area of the body on your exhale. This is not about doing it perfectly. Find your own rhythm and comfort with this. The more you practice this exercise the easier it is to relax. Please be patient with yourself.

Relaxing Breath Technique

Notice how you are feeling now and make note of it, now take a deep breath, and as you let it out, relax your shoulders, relax your face muscles, and your hands

  1. Breathe slowly, from your belly, counting “in …1,2,3,4,5; out….1,2,3,4,5,6,7”. Repeat for 4 or 5 breaths.
  2. Next, allow your breath to normalize to a comfortable and natural rhythm.
  3. Now focus your attention on the center of your chest.
  4. While a part of you continues to focus on the center of your chest, allow another part of you to think about some place that you find to be beautiful, relaxing and calm.
  5. Imagine yourself there, in that beautiful place, feeling so calm and relaxed and surrounded by beauty.

Notice how you are feeling now and compare it to how you were feeling before you began this exercise.

Practicing these relaxation techniques is a great way to start your day, before getting out of bed, and to end your day as you drift off to sleep. Throughout the day, whenever you notice stress or tension in your body, or worrisome thoughts you can use these exercises to relax. It takes only a few minutes and can improve your health, wellbeing, and life. Enjoy!

If you have any questions about the above relaxation techniques please feel free to contact Kate at:,

By | 2020-08-24T14:24:59-08:00 August 24th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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