If you are a new mom, chances are high you are going to experience stress. And if you are a working mom, your chances are even greater. Our careers can place tremendous mental and physical stress on our bodies. Deadlines, e-mails, clients, meetings, working late, working early, commutes, sick babies, hungry babies, fussy babies–all of the above and more add to our stress level. Here are three ways that your stress may be keeping you from reaching your health & fitness goals:
1.) When we experience stress–good or bad–we increase our cortisol (stress-activating hormone) levels. At normal levels, cortisol is an effective aid in regulating your metabolism and keeping you sharp by enabling your fight-or-flight response. However, when we experience chronic, long-term stress, cortisol can lead us to hold on to fat as well as break down muscle which slows our metabolism significantly.
2.) If you find yourself in a habit of working late into the night, we lose valuable rest. Winding down at the end of the night to reflect on our day is not only meditative, but critical to the restoration and repair of our mental and physical states. Without adequate rest, our cortisol levels remain elevated, so we lose the ability to have a peaceful night of sleep. We then wake up irritated and the cycle continues.
3.) Often when we have a stressful day, we think the solution to decrease our stress is to get a work-out in. This can have a reverse effect. Overworking our bodies physically can break down our immune system, decrease our performance and increase chances of injury. Before we know it, we may become sick or hurt, forcing us to stay home from work and miss regular work-outs.
What’s the solution? Do some self-reflection and figure out what is causing the most stress in your life. Once identified, make a realistic plan to overcome this stressor and reduce its impact on your life. Meditation or starting a mindfulness practice are also great ways to slow down your thoughts and lower your stress. And as always, drink lots of water and make healthy eating choices.