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Can stress and boredom make you fat?

Being social organisms, we all have a desire to be heard and to be understood.

Failure on these accounts manifests itself in abnormal health because it is difficult to pent up our feelings for an appreciably long duration. The more someone does it, the more he or she risks stress. Boredom is a sister concern of stress but it assumes a different form.

We all are aware that stress can hurt our overall health and well-being, but a lesser-known fact is that stress can also contribute to weight gain and difficulties in being able to lose excess weight. That’s why it is more important for fitness-savvy individuals to manage their stress effectively. We shall take up a detailed study of the phenomenon a little later in this discussion.

For now, let’s take a look at how stress causes our bodies to gain weight.

Case 1: Stress

The rising levels of Cortisol

When we are stressed, our body produces the stress hormone cortisol. Whilst we do need cortisol in small doses to be able to function appropriately in emergencies, having cortisol constantly running through our bodies can have some serious negative consequences.

Cortisol slows metabolism, affects blood sugar level, interferes with insulin secretion, increases fat storage- especially around the midsection- and promotes cravings for fatty, salty, and sugary foods. It does this in its role to protect us. Back in the day when we hunted and gathered in the wild, we needed cortisol to help us to flee from dangers such as lions and tigers chasing us.

These rare occasions ensured that we didn’t just freeze and get eaten- but instead had the endurance and energy to run for our lives, all thanks to cortisol.

The effect of Cortisol on our lives

The problem is that our bodies don’t know the difference between the dangers from a tiger chasing us and modern everyday stressors like crazy deadlines, personal crises, tests and exams, and racing to meetings on-time. All of these situations cause the same spikes in cortisol that running from a tiger caused but just not once in a while.

For some people, there is enough cortisol running through their bloodstreams, thus wreaking havoc on their systems. If someone is stressed, they can’t relax or get the rest they need. This can further spike the production of cortisol to create a vicious cycle of mental unrest. So, what can you do to minimize the production of cortisol and to manage your stress appropriately?

Here are a few smarter ways to get this done.

1. Managing stress with herbs

Several methods are easy (and not too stressful) to incorporate into your life. There are various herbs that you can take to nourish your nervous system to strengthen and to restore it, or to help it calm down and relax. Try adaptogens such as ginseng or holy basil, or relaxing herbs such as chamomile and lemon balm. You can often brew these herbs into a relaxing tea while taking a breather and relaxing during your hectic day.

2. Load up on calcium

It can also be beneficial to get plenty of calcium, which has a calming effect on the nervous system. Calcium stores can be depleted by cortisol, so it is a good idea to load up on calcium-rich foods such as leafy greens or bone broth during dinner.

3. Cut back on caffeine

It is also recommended that you avoid caffeinated beverages as much as you can as these can affect your sleep patterns and your overall nervous system function. Explore coffee alternatives such as black tea, green tea, yerba mate, or rooibos to replace your usual caffeine fix.

If you are struggling with weight loss and know that you also lead a stressful life, then finding ways to minimize stress and maximize relaxation opportunities is key to being successful with your journey.

Case 2: Boredom

The relationship between being bored and being fat

Do you often find yourself munching on something or the other just because you are bored? Though it is rarely mentioned as a mood or state of mind and is never considered into causes that might be leading to weight gain, boredom is a major weight loss barrier. It is not considered pathological and thus no health insurance will consider it under its leaf but for people who struggle to lose weight, the easiest cure to handle boredom is to eat, eat and eat food!

The tendency to eat when getting bored is inculcated within us from the age we are very young. We are offered food to stop us from crying, or to wait for someone, or to study, or to work, etc. Eating to relieve us from boredom is the habit that once inculcated from childhood, goes with us till old age. Many elderly people even welcome their evening snacks as a break in long hours of boredom and thus tend to overeat.

How to get rid of boredom?

Getting bored results in first eating more than required and then not exercising enough. The repetitive nature of exercises like walking in the neighborhood, working out with the same equipment, same yoga/dance classes makes them more like a chore that results in boredom.

Even though boredom has its positives, it is worth noting that a mere switch of your mindset from boredom to serenity can save you hundreds of extra calories and boost the weight-loss process. One should opt to kill boredom by doing more stimulating activities.

Here are some of the activities that you could do right now to avoid weight gain from eating out of boredom are:

  • Take a walk

  • Drink water

  • Don’t eat while watching the idiot box

  • Read a book

  • Talk to a friend

  • Don’t skip meals

  • Make friends and be more social

  • Avoid high-calorie foods on weekends; rather have a healthy meal & go clubbing

Along with this, exercising with a goal and adopting different patterns of the same exercise is a good way to keep boredom at bay. For example, running, walking on different routes, increasing your speed, changing the distance you walk, etc. Finding yourself capable enough to do the physical exercises in a better manner not only cuts empty boredom calories but also replaces it with exhilaration.

You can also work out by adding some entertainment into your workout routines. For example, working out with a buddy, watching a movie, listening to music, etc. It can thus be concluded that boredom often gives us the pause to handle the stressful lives and if handled correctly it might contribute to weight loss too.

Please note that the same remedies might be prescribed to get rid of stress too but it is your current state of mind that would need to be attended first before any of them could be administered.

While eating something at the first sign of trouble is often a natural reaction in most of us, please note that merely eating would not solve any of the issues- it will only create one new issue out of nothing. And this issue, known as weight gain (or being fat) would be way worse than the stress or boredom that you could be experiencing at the instant!

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