It is common knowledge that stress is one of the main causes of physical and mental diseases.
When I completed my Diploma of Fitness in 2010, the trend within the fitness industry was primarily weight loss. The reason behind studying Fitness, for me, was exactly what the word FITNESS stands for, and that is “the condition of being physically fit and healthy.” While sometimes weight loss may be necessary for achieving optimum health, we also need to look at the reason why some people struggle with their weight in the first place.
When we are under stress, our body switches on our Sympathetic Nervous System, triggering what is also called “Fight and Flight” mode. Our body tenses up and our heart rate and blood pressure increase and the blood pumps to our limbs, so we can run fast if needed. As a result, other systems such as digestion basically shut down. It doesn’t matter whether you eat healthy or not, your body cannot absorb nutrients when you are on the run. In turn, weight loss efforts are ill received when under large amounts of stress.
We need to switch on our Parasympathetic Nervous System, which is also called “Rest and Digest.” In this mode our heart rate slows, our blood pressure lowers, and blood flows directly to the digestive track, stimulating digestion.
We can stimulate our Parasympathetic Nervous System by getting restful sleep, massages, calm breathing or meditation. Slow mindful exercises such as Yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi are excellent ways to relax your body and mind. Eat your meals when you feel calm, so it gets digested well.
Be gentle with yourself. To be healthy is not just having optimum weight, but also having healthy a relationship with food, your body and with others. To be healthy is to have general zest for life.
Author: Jana Pauliniova