Stress seems to be a common part of life, whether it be from work or home stress it can come from a variety of sources. There are dangers and implications of prolonged periods of a stressful lifestyle, high blood pressure being one of them which can cause health problems especially later in life.
How stress works is our body is engaged into survival mode (fight or flight) which causes a hormone to be released called cortisol. When this hormone cortisol is released the insulin levels in your body will spike causing your blood sugar levels to drop, the result being your body communicates to your brain it wants high GI food, like junk food and sugar to replace the falling blood sugar levels.
In conjunction with the drop in blood sugar levels your body believes you to be in a life or death situation, the fight or flight effect, and therefore thinks you are burning extra calories when you may not be. Leading to your mind wanting to replace the lost calories in terms of more food, an easy way to eat into a caloric surplus and encourage weight gain.
It almost seems like as humans we are hard wired to love sugar and its high GI effect on our blood sugar levels. Our taste buds are designed to pick out the slightest hint of sugar in foods we may not recognise as a sweet taste, for example white bread. When your taste buds identify sugar it releases a powerful chemical called dopamine which makes you feel good, kind of like a reward for eating such food. This commonly the reason as to why food has become a go to source for stress relief and adding centimetres to peoples' waistlines or even developing emotional eating habits.
A few great ways to relieve stress which can be fun and also improve your health are the following:
- Exercise: when you exercise, you will be using up adrenaline which will reduce your cortisol, and in return will also release endorphins which make you feel good.
- Meditation: this will make you relax, controlled breathing and lowering the heart rate.
- Relaxing music: a calm playlist and quiet place can free your mind. Tranquil sounds like the rainforest or ocean, as clichéd as it sounds, are perfect.
- Read: a good book can easily take your mind away from the stress of life.
- Watching a comedy/time with friends: generally laughing and being around positive people can help calm down those stress levels.
- Decompress: go get a message, have a warm bath and place a warm towel around your neck.
In conclusion stress will always creep into our lives, sometimes in circumstances out of our control, but we can always be proactive in our actions as being reactive sometimes can leave a person feeling demoralised and more stressed than there were originally.
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