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The Importance of Mind-Set: Stress and the Scale


Updated February 15, 2014

Stress and Your Stomach

Did you know stress may have a direct connection to your weight? In recent years, research has shown that how you deal with everyday stress can affect your waistline in particular.

This can be a huge threat to your health because abdominal fat is more dangerous -- and increases disease risk more -- than fat located in any other part of the body. Excessive abdominal fat is linked directly to serious health conditions like hypertension and diabetes.

Women in particular have been found to accumulate more fat around their waists while they're under stress. In fact, a Yale University study showed that even otherwise-slim women who are under high stress levels are prone to put on weight on around their abdominal area.

The Cortisol Connection

What's the connection? When we are stressed out, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol has been proven to encourage fat storage in the abdominal area.

The worst part is if you don't learn to alleviate stress, cortisol levels stay high even when the original source of stress has subsided.

In other words, that 5 p.m. deadline looming today could have you on edge, but unless you deal with the tension it's causing the right way, the cortisol that reared its ugly head will still be looming at 5 p.m. tomorrow although the deadline has long passed.

The prolonged effects of cortisol will cause even more fatty deposits to find their way to your middle even when the stress seems to have passed.

You Can Cope

The good news is, despite the fact that stress is an unavoidable part of life, there is something you can do about it.

Studies have shown that those who make time for exercise have less anxiety (and fewer related physical ailments) than those of us who are sedentary.

Not only is physical activity a stress-reliever in and of itself, but the boost in self-confidence and sense of well-being that you experience afterwards will help you cope with current and future stress.

Getting just a half an hour of physical activity in most days of the week can do wonders for your stress levels.

In addition to exercise, some self-care techniques can also go a long way in helping you manage your stress levels.

Simple stress-relievers include:

    • Have a massage.
    • Get a manicure or pedicure.
    • Take a long, hot bubble bath.
    • Take a brisk walk outside.

To learn more about effective coping skills, visit About's stress management site where you'll find ideas for tension tamers and much more.

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