It's very common for people to spend years and years dealing with consistently high stress levels and if you're accumulating fat around your middle, it's highly likely that stress is a big contributory factor.  

If you haven't done so already I strongly recommend you read the first two articles I wrote in this series about stress:

Part I  Why stress makes you store fat around your middle 

Part II  How stressed are you?

In this post I'm going to give you some tips and ideas to help you manage and possibly reduce the amount of stress in your life which, in turn, will help you shift the fat from your midsection. Because even if it appears that there is no end to it, you can't go on indefinitely.  Something will have to give otherwise you will find yourself on the slippery slope towards exhaustion and ill health.

Of course you could take a huge leap and make some big life changes (quitting your stressful job for example) or you can start by developing some strategies to help you manage and deal with stress better.

Prioritise

Write a list of all the daily/weekly tasks you find stressful and put them in order of importance.  Then ask yourself - Do I really have to do it all?  Have I set myself unrealistic goals?  Are you putting yourself under pressure to be Superwoman? 

Delegate

Select some of the tasks from the list you wrote and delegate them where you can.  I hate to stereo-type but women are very good at trying to do everything because 'nobody else can do it quite as well'.  But we need to learn to let go of some things. Start letting go of some of these jobs and your body will let go of that fat as well.

Learn to say NO

You have to learn to say no without feeling guilty.  Setting boundaries is healthy.  You need to learn to respect and take care of yourself.  Here's an article I wrote teaching you how to say no and not feel guilty.

Put yourself first

Now you've freed up some of your time by delegating a few tasks and saying no to others, it's time to make that time yours.  It might be a whole day, a few hours or even 10 minutes but making time for yourself is crucial to help you manage the stress in your life. There are lots of things you can do, this list gives you a few ideas:

  • Spa day
  • Massage
  • Read a book
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Reflexology
  • Medidate
  • T'ai chi
  • Pedicure
  • Go for a walk
  • Epsom salts bath
  • Take a nap

Get a good nights s​leep

Good quality sleep plays a very important part in a healthy lifestyle.  Not only will sleep help you manage stress better, it also helps to boost your immune system and balance hormone levels making it easier to lose weight.

Tips for a good nights sleep:

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • Take regular exercise (but not in the late evening as this can be too stimulating)
  • Turn off all screens at least 1 hour before you go to bed
  • Have a warm bath with some relaxing aromatherapy oils (lavender, roman chamomile)

Laugh

Every time you laugh you release feel good chemicals so even if you don't feel like it, smile.  Watch an funny film or an old comedy show and laugh that stress away.

Take time to eat

How often to you grab something to eat on the go or perhaps you regularly eat at your desk in front of your computer or while watching the TV.  Make the effort to sit down, turn off all screens and focus on enjoying your meal.  Take a few deep breaths before you start eating and enjoy the aroma of your food.  Eat slowly, chew each mouthful well and savour your meal.

By taking longer to eat not only are you likely to eat less, your body will be better able to digest the food properly.  Eating quickly often causes heart burn, indigestion and bloating.

Meditate

When I was first introduced to meditation as a way of reducing stress I was very resistant.  I felt stressed at the thought of having to spend 30 minutes doing nothing!  But you don't need a lot of time and you don't need to sit cross-legged on the floor to feel the benefits.  I often practice a walking meditation when I'm out with our dog or my new favourite thing is to run a deep bath, add some Epsom salts and relaxing essential oils and use a guided meditation from the free app Insight Timer.

These are just a few ideas to help you reduce the amount of stress in your life which, in turn, will help you lose weight from around your middle.  Please share your stress busting tips in the comments or head on over to my Facebook page if you have any questions about stress and weight gain.

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