Stress can lead to a whole host of problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease and even an increased risk of cancer, but many people do not realize the dramatic effect it can have on their weight. However, according to studies, worries about employment, finances, family problems, and other major triggers, can actually cause people to gain weight. Moreover, the individuals who seem to be most susceptible to this correlation are those who are already overweight or obese. Still, it is not the actual stress, in and of itself, that causes the weight gain, but the coping methods individuals use to manage these troubling situations.
Many individuals, particularly those who already make poor health choices, may turn to comfort foods, cigarettes or alcohol to relieve their stress. Yet, coping with stress by indulging in unhealthy behavior is not only a temporary solution that merely masks the physical and emotional strain, but also can lead to more severe problems later on, such as eating disorders, cancer, liver failure, and obesity. Additionally, once the euphoric state brought on by food, cigarettes or alcohol subsides, individuals generally experience feelings of guilt, nervousness and agitation or depression, which leads to a repeat of the earlier behavior to regain the blissful feeling once again.
This cycle is a dangerous roller coaster of negative emotion and seemingly harmless behavior that only serves to exacerbate the initial issue and cause further stress. Still, it is difficult to break this cycle, mainly because individuals do not view their behavior as harmful until long-term damage has begun. By the time someone realizes her emotional eating or reliance on alcohol is out of control, she may be too dependent to be able to stop the damaging behavior. This is why it is so important to recognize these behavior in their early stages and learn to use alternative coping mechanisms.
Although a lot of people still feel stress only impacts the mood, more and more researchers are finding that is can wreak havoc on overall health and sabotage weight-loss attempts. In fact, stress and how a person manages it can play such a major role in the success or failure of weight-loss that many experts make stress reduction the number one priority in beginning a program, recognizing that efforts to lose weight can be thwarted by stress. The key to reaching or maintaining a healthy weight may be to learn to manage stress in healthier ways. These may include exercise, meditation, participating in a hobby or interest, or enjoying a hot bath. Virtually any activity can be used to manage stress, some are just more beneficial than others. Individuals need to be cautious of their decisions in this regard and think about the long-term consequences of their choices.