Relaxation and downtime is vital to good health. It is something most of us overlook or think we don’t have time for these days, but lack of relaxation has profound effects on health, and fat gain.
When we don’t get enough rest and/or have lots of stress – and stress can be obvious or it can fly under the radar – our hormones play merry hell. The ‘stress hormones’, adrenalin, cortisol and norepinephrine, are in a state of constant low-lying release, instead of being released for fight or flight as is their purpose. When these hormones are released continually they can wreak havoc with the body; more sugar circulates in the blood, more fat is stored abdominally, metabolism is altered and we are more prone to infection and disease because immunity is suppressed.
Added to that, we are often falsely hungry because the brain, which relies on sugar, thinks “Ah, I know what this person needs to alleviate the stress – sugar! Sugar will make me feel so much better!” So we end up eating more, and in particular, eating sweeter foods. Being fatter then makes us more stressed – and so it goes on.
Take time for yourself every day
- Sit down for all your meals.
- Go outdoors in your breaks. Eat lunch away from your desk, outdoors if possible. Walk after dinner each evening.
- Regularly spend time in natural green space, whose effects are very calming.
- Go to bed 30-60 minutes earlier, switch off electronic devices and just relax.
- Sit or lie down calmly and quietly for ten minutes here and there each day, concentrate on breathing in a relaxed way and clearing your mind.
- Spend time with friends and family, just chatting, laughing and socialising.
- Exercise, when done moderately, can have a very relaxing effect. Make sure you get some exercise that gets you out of breath at least three days a week. Walk outside every day, clear your mind.
- Have a go at yoga; it can be very calming.
- Try some meditation, you can use an app such as ‘The Mindfulness App’, ‘Simply Being’, or ‘Headspace’.
- Work fewer hours, you may actually get more done.