Although the causes of a weight gain are quite obvious as calories in vs calories out are the main cause, stress can actually pay a large part in weight gain and how your body works in general.

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Stress actually does have a direct link to weight gain and developing a better understanding of this unhealthy link can help you to combat it, and turn your physical and mental health. With obesity being one of the leading health complications in the UAE, learning how to manage and combat stress, can actually do your physical health a lot of favours.

How Does Stress Affect Weight Gain?

Stress and Weight Gain

The effects and contribution of stress towards weight gain are not obvious or noticeable at first. But you can begin to suspect the link between stress and weight gain when you experience emotional and mental health concerns and not just physical health.

Mental and emotional health symptoms from stress-induced weight gain include:

  • Irritation
  • Mood swings
  • Shorter temper
  • Overwhelming thoughts
  • Sadness
  • Headaches
  • Confusion

The Effects of Cortisol

Stress and Weight Gain

Cortisol is a hormone that increases due to stress. Cortisol is released by the adrenal glands and increases the body’s response to threats. This gets the body into a ‘fight or flee’ mode.

When an increased amount of cortisol hormones are released into the body, it can also have a significant effect on appetite levels. This will encourage people to eat comfort foods, and to larger portions than normal. When cortisol levels drop, so will your appetite.

Cortisol production will drop back to normal levels once the perceived threat is gone, In essence, when your stress goes away, so will your appetite. 

Possible Health Risks from Stress-Induced Weight Gain

Stress and Weight Gain

Stress-induced weight gain can do your body a lot of harm in many ways. When you are carrying excess weight or are obese, you risk yourself from getting a serious health complication.

Stress can also contribute and worsen your short term and long term health. The health complications associated with stress-induced weight gain include:

  • Insomnia
  • Obesity
  • Joint pain
  • High blood pressure

More serious health complications associated with stress-induced weight gain include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Reproductive problems
  • Decrease lung and respiratory functioning
  • Diabetes

If you notice any of these symptoms, are already at risk from the above health complications or notice any serious irregularities in your health along with stress and weight gain, speak with your doctor immediately as serious health complications must be treated as soon as possible. 

How to Manage Stress and Weight Gain

Stress and Weight Gain

1. Exercise

Exercise isn’t just important for your physical health, but it plays a big role in your mental health too. Exercise, along with a healthy and controlled diet, is the most effective way to combat stress and weight gain.

Exercise helps to turn your negative energy and turn it into positive output. Exercise also releases serotonin into your body, a hormone that can boost your mood and bring down stress levels.

2. Make Better Dieting Choices

No matter the cause of your weight gain, eating junk food or eating in excess is the main way you will gain excess weight. The best way to combat this is to plan out your diet, no difference between healthy and unhealthy foods and remove all access to junk food from your home or environment.

This will push you to stay on a healthy diet, no matter how bad stress levels get. Discipline with your food is also key to your success with your diet.

3. Unwind and De-Stress

Find ways to unwind and de-stress by giving yourself time every day to escape the routines that may be causing your stress. Picking up a new hobby, practising calming activities such as yoga and meditation can also help. Even getting a couple of minutes of an extra nap in your day can make a big difference.

4. Surround Yourself with Positive People

If you hang around people and environment that only makes you more stressed, chances are you won’t improve your condition, Remove yourself from those negative environments and surround yourself with people who promote positivity, relieve your stress, and encourage you to live a healthier lifestyle in general.

5. Give Your Life Priority

Set a list of priorities in your life. Most of the time, stress is caused by the inability to manage the different aspects of our life, especially with work, family, and financial commitments. If you can prioritize one ahead of the others it may clear your mind and minimize your stress.

6. Seek Medical Advice

Speaking with a doctor is the best thing you can do for any of your health matters, especially when you don’t understand your current personal health situation. Particularly with mental health, seeing a professional doctor, psychiatrist or therapist can be very helpful.

This also includes stress. As soon as you notice the physical and emotional symptoms of stress, seeking professional help is crucial. 

Head over to the Okadoc app to immediately book an appointment with your health practitioner.