Is Stress Making You Gain Weight?

“You may have noticed what happens with your energy, cravings, mood, food, and sleep when you are stressed, but you may not have realized that your level of stress combined with how you cope with your stress has a biochemical effect on these various aspects of your heath. Weight gain and stress, unfortunately, go together for a lot of people.”

Sue Van Raes writes in an article posted on The Chopra Center site, she then proceeds to discuss our eating habits when stressed, stress hormones, stress and sleep, breaking the negative stress cycle, and ways to handles stress. Link to article at end of this post.

As you know, here at Meditate Madison, I am dedicated to helping participants to reduce stress and enhance well-being. I have dealt with stress and anxiety especially when I experienced various traumas in my life, including dealing with my health crisis a few years ago, of which I am still recovering and still working on losing weight. Many of these methods that Sue Van Raes outlines are ones not only that I practice personally but also ones that I share with you at the studio.

  • Meditation and Senses – In my opinion a formidable antidote for stress as it relaxes the nervous system and helps calm stress. Focusing on our senses in a mindful way helps you to be present. I offer various opportunities for meditation and mindfulness. Be sure to take note of the FREE Introduction to Meditation session on October 19th.
  • Breath and Relaxation Techniques – Slow deep breaths can relieve high-stress levels and activate the parasympathetic (calming) side of the nervous system. In my Restorative Yoga classes we are down-regulating and activating the parasympathetic side while being fully supported with cushions, bolsters, blankets and other props while lying supine on the floor. In Conscious Relaxation or Yoga Nidra, which is a guided, promotes deep rest and relaxation. There are various stages, such as a body scan and breath awareness, which leads to the space between awake and sleep. You feel refreshed after a session. Learn more about these sessions I offer.
  • Emotional Eating vs. Mindful Eating – This aspect is one we do not realized especially with emotional eating, food cravings and even loss of appetite. I’ve experienced all three in various stressful traumas in my life. Mindful eating helps us to slow down, use our senses, and recognize our body’s needs. Our Friday morning sessions have been discussing these ideas as well as others in our wellness journey.
  • Aromatherapy – Lavender in particular can set the tone for relaxation and rest. During some sessions, I will use lavender and other relaxing essential oils in the diffuser to bring a sense of calm. I’m also a retailer for Simply Earth essential oils. Take a look at the oils I have available the next time you attend a session.
  • Additional Methods
    • One of the favorite methods of most people who attend the studio is the Crystal Singing Bowls sessions. Sound can have a profound effect on our mind and body. The Crystal Singing Bowls with their deep tones and vibrations transports you to a realm of calm. Sound Healing has been around for centuries with great success. At times I combine the sounds of the bowls with Restorative Yoga. I also offer the bowls in private sessions.
    • Mind-Body-Spirit Coaching can assist you in learning how to effectively counter a stressful life by bringing balance, self-compassion, releasing negative thoughts and beliefs, and methods such as meditation, yoga, breath awareness and other practices into private sessions. You begin to receive clarity and comfort from external and internal pressures.
    • Self-Care, Deep Relaxation Immersion, and Mini-Retreats – Taking time for you is more vital than you realize. I offer workshops for self-care on a variety of topics. A deep relaxation immersion experience will combine several modalities including energy healing, crystal singing bowls, meditation & restorative yoga, for example. If you would like an extended session, say 4-6 hours, I can personalize a mini-retreat for you on a theme using various modalities, including coordinating a relaxation massage with my friend Dawn Nagle at Heliotrope Massage located just down the hall in my building.

In all, when we take time to handle our stressful times with compassion, gentleness and stress management strategies, we can experience less struggle with our weight. When we can also realize that we are not alone in our stress & weight issue, it can make a world of difference as we learn others are experiencing the same. That’s why joining with others for support is helpful and inspiring.

Read Sue Van Raes article, “Is Stress Making You Gain Weight?”

Deb Phelps

Deb Phelps

Deb Phelps is a certified Mindfulness and Meditation Teacher, and Practitioner since 1980. She is also a Mindfulness Coach, Sound Energy Practitioner, and Yoga Specialist who uniquely assists her clients to overcome stress, anxiety, PTSD, grief, and other life situations so that they can once again live purposeful, joy-filled lives. Deb has overcome significant life challenges aided by a variety of mind-body-spirit practices. By diligently using these tools over many decades, she found a life of contentment and equanimity. Through extensive education and life experience, including living for one year in a spiritual community, she assists and inspires others to do the same. ~ Deb Phelps, C.MI, MMT, E-RYT500, LVCYT, YACEP

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