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Take care of all 3: Stress, Anxiety and Overweight

Take care of all 3: Stress, Anxiety and Overweight
Why anxiety can cause overweight, according to several scientific studies, the relationship between these factors has been proven over decades of study. Problems with eating arise when stress breaks into our lives and distorts our daily habits, or because we don't have time left and we eat the first thing we have on hand, because we eat more than necessary or because we snack between meals to reduce anxiety. .

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity and overweight are two of the major health problems facing the world population today. They are defined as an abnormal or excessive accumulation of fat that can seriously harm health.

That is to say, the problem with overweight and obesity is that they are two of the most important risk factors for the development of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes , musculoskeletal disorders and some cancers.

Fortunately, we have been able to detect many of the causes, which in the long term can lead us to reduce its prevalence. One of the risk factors for weight gain that has been discussed the most in recent years is anxiety.

Stress, Anxiety and Overweight

Anxiety and stress: are they the same?

Stress and anxiety are words that we sometimes use synonymously because they both refer to psychological and physiological states that alter our mood and our activity in general.

Stress can have a positive side (the English term for this is “eustress”, or eustress in Spanish) that helps us respond to the demands of the environment, and flee or adapt according to the situation. Thus, stress is the broad physiological state, which can have different manifestations and its presence can vary regularly.

But when stress is a constant state, which is not helping us respond adequately to external demands, and begins to give us the feeling of being out of control, then it may be becoming a pathological condition closer to anxiety .

Depending on the level at which it occurs, anxiety is characterized by a series of psychological and physiological experiences such as palpitations, tachycardia, sweating, insomnia, feeling of shortness of breath, constant movements, lack of concentration, anguish.

Anxiety is a more specific condition than stress and is accompanied by important changes at a physiological level, such as the secretion of corticosteroid hormones at very high levels and for a prolonged time, which in turn causes our body and our mood. They are not adaptive, but the opposite.

Although its causes are very varied, some of the most common are lifestyles related to work or academic conditions, or more personal experiences that cause vulnerability, such as abuse, harassment, feelings of uncertainty, the loss of a loved one, among others. others.

Why can anxiety cause overweight?

The main cause of overweight and obesity is the increase in the intake of high-calorie foods that are rich in fat. In turn, this increase can occur due to many factors, for example, reduced physical activity, food processing and distribution, and unbalanced diets.

Apart from the above, some recent research has suggested that anxiety is another risk factor for the development of overweight and obesity, mainly for the following reason: when we feel anxious we eat more.

When we find ourselves in situations that cause anxiety, a whole series of chemical changes occur in our brain. At these times, something that gives us a feeling of calm and satisfaction are foods that have a higher caloric concentration, which are also less satiating, which is why they generate the need to eat in large quantities.

In addition, constant stress and anxiety often cause insomnia, which means that on a daily basis we have the need to eat a greater amount of food, generally also with high calorie content.

Excessive sugar consumption activates the brain system responsible for metabolizing glucocorticoids, which are hormones that metabolize carbohydrates, and which are also activated in response to stress situations, causing a feeling of euphoria. The latter is adaptive and important to maintain homeostasis at moderate secretion levels, but in excess it can be problematic.

Some tips to reduce anxiety

Anxiety, in addition to being related to obesity, is related to a sedentary lifestyle and high consumption of psychoactive substances such as alcohol or tobacco, which in turn causes greater overweight and obesity. Furthermore, both overweight and anxiety are two problems that significantly affect children.

The good news is that some research suggests that indeed, a stable reduction in anxiety states favors a decrease in body mass index. For that reason it is important to know some ways to avoid it.

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Because the causes are quite non-specific, some of the most general recommendations we can make are based on the modification of habits; A question that may seem quite complicated, but can also be simple if it is properly followed up.

We give you some tips to reduce anxiety:

1. Detect the moments when we feel stressed or anxious.

Stress and anxiety can be caused by very diverse situations, for example, a conflict that we have not been able to talk about or solve at work, at school, with our partner, with friends or with family; It may also happen that they do not have a clear cause, or that it is related to a difficulty in setting limits for others.

At first, it is important to have clues about the situations that may be causing us constant stress, so that it is possible to modify them or modify our positions and decisions regarding them.

2. Look for alternatives

Something that we must be clear about is that habits do not change from one day to the next, just as anxiety does not disappear overnight, which is why it is important to learn to find relaxation through things that are more functional than excessive eating. of calories.

For example, learning to disconnect and rest, or at the level of interpersonal relationships, trying to set limits for others and for our own demands. Likewise, and according to our interests, we can choose to do physical exercise, go for a walk, visit someone, read a good book, have tea, watch a movie.

3. Establish routines that incorporate healthy habits and pleasant experiences

It is about ensuring that our daily life is made up of some basic things such as having a balanced diet, in sufficient quantity and as natural and fresh as possible; do moderate exercise, have moments of rest, share with our peers, and try to do activities that give us motivation and personal satisfaction, which can be anything from a hobby to maintaining long-term professional aspirations.

In any case, it is also important to ask for specialized help if we need it. A visit to a psychologist, psychiatrist or neurologist can also be very useful to reduce our anxiety levels and improve our response to stressful situations.

Remember that prevention is better than cure
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