When it comes to evaluating the mind-body connection, stress is an interesting place to start. As defined, stress is pressure or tension wielded on an object. Anything that instigates change or creates a challenge or poses a threat of any sort can be considered stress.
The pressure that stress creates in our lives is often psychological. Things like work, arguments and economic trouble cause mental distress in our lives, creating undue pressure in our minds that sometimes manifests itself physically.
For example, stress at work may spill over into the evening, impacting your decision to opt for another meal from a drive-thru instead of cooking a healthy meal for you and your family. Overwhelming stress can build up and turn into anxiety and even lead to depression if not managed properly, which can then cause physical symptoms like lethargy or fatigue. This in turn may influence your willingness to maintain a regular workout routine.
Managing Stress to Manage Weight Loss
If left unmanaged stress can significantly impede the weight loss process, which is something that you will need to take into account after weight loss surgery.
Stress creates a vicious cycle, often leading to unhealthy behaviors like:
- Sedentary behavior
- Alcohol consumption
Exercise can help break the vicious cycle that stress creates. Absolutely any form of physical activity can act as a stress reliever, often offering benefits like improved mood, reduced anxiety and greater ability to overcome depressive thoughts.
Exercise can help you to manage stress in several ways:
- Exercise increases endorphin production: Endorphins are neurotransmitters that manage our perception of pleasure and pain. The greater the number of endorphins produced by the brain, the greater your experience of pleasure. The surge of endorphins after aerobic activities like running is especially great and is sometimes referred to as a “runners high.”
- Creates space for meditation: Exercise is rhythmic, and creates an opportunity for meditation in motion. When you are focusing on the activity at hand it is difficult to think about anything else. Your entire focus turns to following the moves in your aerobics class, hitting the racquetball, keeping your balance and so on. These motions may become ritualistic, providing a space where you can release tension without too much thought.
Regular exercise is recommended after weight loss surgery as it will help you burn calories and progress towards reaching your weight loss goal. But the physical benefits of exercise are only half of the equation. Exercising every day can help you manage the stress in your life. Start out with simple exercises and challenge yourself further as you lose weight. Even walking for just 20 minutes is a great start to reducing stress through exercise.