How Stress Can Affect Your Body by Sally Perkins

Managing Stress-Related Weight Change

It is completely normal and healthy for weight to fluctuate throughout the day, week and month, but sometimes, a period of weight loss or weight gain indicates some underlying issue. One of the hardest causes to identify is stress, because it affects each person individually and can appear different in each case. As your body ages, new stressors can affect your weight, and existing stressors can affect you in new ways. It’s important to pay attention to what your body is telling you and naturally manage both the causes, and symptoms of stress in a holistic way before it hurts your wellbeing. Focusing on a healthy diet, daily gentle exercise, and natural healing are amazing, low risk ways to cope with stress related weight issues. 

Is it Stress?

Stress is a tricky thing to cope with because sometimes, it acts in ways you don’t expect. Even if you maintain your regular diet and exercise, heightened stress levels can cause weight fluctuations. On the other hand, being stressed can cause you to neglect your diet and exercise routine and affect your weight in more expected ways. Finding a natural way to manage your wellbeing is a gentler, and often more effective method that allows you to keep away from pricey doctor appointments and medications and their unpleasant side effects. If you’ve recently suffered a loss, taken on a new responsibility, or made a lifestyle change, it’s important to keep to a routine as you adjust so you can identify how stress is affecting your body. Consistency is key in caring for your health in the long term, so make sure you’re putting extra effort into keeping up good habits to reduce the effects of stress.

How to Cope

Once you’ve recognized that stress is causing your weight gain or loss, you can start taking steps in the right direction. Whether you're a young person just getting used to effects of stress on your body, or you're a senior coping with weight loss, the three areas of focus that are important to reduce the effects of stress on your weight are:

1.      Minimize exposure to the things causing you stress. This seems obvious but it isn’t always easy, especially if your stress is arising from something you can’t change. If you can’t change the circumstances, however, you can change how ready you are to cope with them. If you need to seek help, from friends and family or a professional, don’t be afraid to reach out. Spend time each day drinking a cup of tea, rubbing in a scented moisturizer, or cooking yourself a healthy meal and reflect on what is causing you stress. Not only will you naturally relax yourself, but you’ll better understand your stressors and be more prepared to deal when life throws you an emotional curveball.

2.      Take time to move your body each day. If you’re stressed about a work project, go for a walk on your lunch break. Not only is exercise a great mood enhancer, but a change of scenery can completely change your perspective on things and get you out of a rut. And, if you’re exercising each day, you can ensure that even if the number on the scale is going down, you’re not losing muscle mass, which can be far more dangerous than losing body fat. And if stress is causing weight gain, a bit of exercise each day will help you build a healthy appetite and manage your weight in a natural way.

3.      Be kind to yourself. Stress is an inevitable part of life, and being good to yourself can go a long way towards making you feel better. Instead of focusing on dark circles under your eyes, or how your clothes don’t fit right, focus on how you get to try a new eye cream or shop for something new. The power of positivity is so important in healing yourself naturally and helping you get your stress levels back under control. 

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