Stress vs. Distress : could this be hindering your weight loss efforts?


Stress is not the same as distress. Stress is a normal part of everyday life. With normal stress there are no traumatic triggers and the kind of pressure that you feel is generally at a low-level.

A healthy amount of stress can get things done in a timely manner and help you achieve something that needs to happen or is important to you.

Distress is what most people refer to as stress however it is quite different.

Distress is triggered by stressful life events and situations.

It can be brought about by underlying thoughts and beliefs about what you think ‘should’ be happening now but in reality, it is not.

It is a level of stress that is really high and starts to have a huge impact on your body (and weight loss efforts).

It is crucial be aware of your indictors and signs of distress, as you may not even realise you are at a high stress level.

You can get into a routine of feeling stressed where you may never or infrequently allow your body to return to baseline functioning.

The level of stress you think you have, could feel normal to you but actually it might be at a high level of stress = distress.

This could be having great consequences to your body, mind and emotions.

Distress is the main factor in emotional or binge eating (over eating).

If you find yourself eating when you are not physically hungry and you just ‘don’t know why’, it’s most likely that you are trying to cope with a stressor.

Distress affects the GI system, reproductive system and excreting systems and the hormones that influence appetite leading to weight gain.

Stressors that lead to distress:

• Physical -injury or illness

• Chemical -drugs, alcohol, cleaning products

• Physiological -shock, pain

• Psychological -anxiety, anger, fear

• Social -relationship conflict

• Environmental -noise and pollutants

• Nutritional -food intolerances, deficiencies and ‘not so awesome for your body’ foods

It is so vital to know what your triggers are, and your signs and indicators that you are distressed (under high stress).

Some examples might be: binge(over eating), emotional or stress eating, uncontrollable food cravings, high blood pressure or heart rate, ‘too tired’ to do anything, really lacking energy, no drive or motivation, feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, nervousness, doom, frustration (short temper or flick your switch quickly) and depressed.

You will have your own unique signs: start to become aware of them.

What to do when you are “Stressed”…

Work slowly with decreasing your high amounts of stress (distress).

See what resonates with you the most and gradually bring more of the following and your own techniques and method into your life to decrease the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual effects of distress.

Tips to decreasing stress in your life:

Get Organised – it is very beneficial to plan what you have some control over. Just writing things down i.e. to do-lists, meetings, appointments and social events etc. to get them out of the head and down on paper or screen. Look at what your priorities are, and deal with them first and allow yourself to let go of anything out of your control or what doesn’t need to be done right away. This can have a huge impact on decreasing anxiety and stress levels.

Eat Well – ensure each of your daily meals are packed full of high density nutrients. By making sure you are getting the nutrients and micro-nutrients your body requires it increases energy and overall health. Eating nutritiously is great for supporting stress management.

Live Well – Begin establishing a lifestyle that minimises stress. Find the stressors in your life and start reducing them, removing them and exploring other options to them. Get help and support with stressors that cannot be reduced initially. Learn to say ‘no’ when you mean no and walk away from stressful situations that are impacting you negatively.

Try out supplements, herbs, and aromatherapy – Take care of yourself with some other methods of stress relief. Look for what supports and relaxes you most.

Meditate – simply sit and reflect on stressors or allow space to see things differently or just have some time to yourself in a peaceful and quiet environment.

Take time out to have a massage – the benefits are not only to relax you but alleviate many physical conditions associated with stress i.e. headache’s, back pain and anxiety.

Some other valuable practices to support the reduction and elimination of stress are:

Music - to soothe and unwind.

Breath work - to focus on the breath to allow space to calm down and be present.

Journaling - put thoughts and concerns down on paper to become aware of them and to help manage the worries.

Joyful Movement - go for a walk (in nature is preferable), or try yoga or tai chi to de-stress and to gain the many other benefits.

Set Goals - put your focus and energy onto what you truly desire and take steps towards achieving them.

Some added extras:

Find something fun to do – Look at what you love to do, what is special to you, what brings you joy and happiness and do it.

Discover your purpose – what are you here to do? How do you want to be in the world? Unearth why life is worth living, uniquely for you.

Get in touch with spiritually, God and the universe, for whatever that means to you and allow yourself to feel a sense of connection to you, everything around you and something bigger.

Lean on a friend – ask for help or simply have a chat with friends or family who are supportive.

There are many supportive methods and therapies

that are useful for stress management.

Seek therapy and consult with a health care provider for further options of stress relief.

Also there is an abundance of different techniques that are beneficial for stress reduction i.e. reflexology, hypnosis and visualisation.

Allow yourself the time and give yourself permission to take care of you and

what is important to you.

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