Have you ever stopped while walking down a street to look at blossom or listen to birds singing? I wonder if you’ve sat and closed your eyes, just to relax. How long did you enjoy your moment before something inside you said, ‘That’s enough now – get going again.’ Our culture of work, speed and relentless busyness doesn’t seem to value self care and leaves us feeling guilty if we dare to pause. In my travels I speak to a lot of people who are putting their own needs last, attempting to keep up at the expense of their own health. This sort of martyrish mentality might impress your boss/family/friends in the short term but it isn’t good – for you or them. Think of the safety announcement when you go on a plane, ‘fit your own mask first’. You’re of no help to anyone if you’ve collapsed.
Stress affects your weight too. In spite of our modern veneer, biologically we’re still the same as in the stone-age. We’re programmed to survive tigers and famines. In a famine, you’ll automatically store fat, heighten your ability to recognise and desire for fattening foods and you won’t feel inclined to use up valuable energy on exercise. Faced with threats to life like tigers, you’ll automatically burn fat to become lean and quick. We haven’t evolved a specific response to email overload or financial worries. Your brain may well interpret low level, long term stress as famine. You can’t control this, the hormones made in response or the fat those hormones will make you store. Nutrition is fundamentally important to weight loss but for it not to be an uphill struggle, you need to address stress.
If you can eliminate the source, that’s best even if it’s difficult to do. If not, make stress reduction a priority; a lunchtime walk in the woods, music, gardening, counselling, sport, art, mindfulness – to help you feel calm and safe.
Top tip – Prioritise stress reduction.