If you’ve been doing everything right, like exercising regularly and eating healthy, but still seem to carry excess weight in your midsection, this could be a case of the stress belly. Of course, there can be other factors that can contribute to a stubborn belly, such as genetics, food intolerances, or a slowing metabolism. However, excess belly fat due to stress is much more common than you think.
Let’s take a quick dive into some science. Our health coaches explained how stress can lead to weight gain due to increased appetite, insulin resistance, and inflammation. But more specifically, studies show that stress-induced cortisol is linked to abdominal fat distribution.
While stubborn excess belly fat is just one visible indicator, here are some signs that it may be caused by stress:
Chronic stress has become a norm in today’s society, due to job pressure, social and family obligations, constant exposure to news outlets, etc. However, this doesn’t mean that in order to combat stress belly, you need to eliminate all the stress from your life. A little short-term stress can even be beneficial.
The main goal is to learn to cope with life’s stressors and avoid unnecessary stressful situations. This study shows that women who had better stress coping mechanisms carried less belly fat than women who were exposed to the same stress but with less ability to cope. According to the study, “differences in coping and appraisal may suggest that a particular psychological pattern might influence the reactivity of the adrenal-cortical system to stress, and subsequent fat distribution.”
Here are some great coping tips that can help battle the stress belly:
Breathing exercises and meditation. Simple breathing techniques can significantly lower your cortisol and stress levels in a matter of seconds!
Lowering the intensity of your workout routine. When workouts are too intense, they can lead to heightened cortisol and stress on your body. Try incorporating more lower intensity exercises like this restorative yoga exercise between high intensity training days.
Practicing an attitude of gratitude. Start each day by acknowledging the good things in your life, and you’ll be prepared to tackle anything. Journaling these positive affirmations can also be calming reminders in times of stress.
Go on daily walks, outside if possible. The combination of fresh air, sunlight, and endorphins is a great natural stress reliever. Walking can also help with fat loss! But if you’re short on time, try getting in a few minutes of grounding. This easy technique can instantly improve your mood and reduce stress levels.
[Read more: 14 Healthy Ways to Handle Stress]
If you’d like more stress coping techniques or want more recommendations for getting rid of stress belly, try Yes Health for free for 14 days to see what your coaches recommend for you.