Overweight Because of Fear
Cortisol is an important hormone in the body, secreted by the adrenal glands and involved in proper glucose metabolism, the regulation of blood pressure, insulin release for blood sugar maintenance, immune function, and inflammatory response of the body. But it can also be a detriment to the body.
Cortisol is also known as “the stress hormone” because higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with anxiety and stress) have been shown to have negative effects, such as increased abdominal fat and high blood pressure.
Some of the health problems associated with increased stomach fat are heart attacks and strokes!
To keep cortisol levels healthy and under control, the body’s relaxation response should be activated after a fight or flight response occurs. You can learn to relax your body with various stress management techniques, and you can make lifestyle changes in order to keep your body from reacting to stress in the first place.
This is where something like Hypnosis or Yoga or a Meditation practice comes in to help you release and relax. All of the above practices stop the fight or flight function of the body long enough for cortisol production to cease and the body to go back to normal functioning.
One basic thing is for certain, if your breathing is normal, your blood pressure will go back to normal. When I used to work with biofeedback, I would always get the machine to read completely relaxed when my breath was six counts in and six counts out with no holds between the breaths. Holding the breath is stressful to the heart and the brain, so just try breathing slowly for five or six counts in and five or six counts out.
If you are App savvy, there is an App on the Iphone called “Tempo Adv.” that I use to keep the rhythm going. Just set the App for 1 beat per second, and six beats per breath. You’ll hear one louder beat every six counts to keep your mind on the breathing.
The consistant pattern of the metronome is also a great way to quiet the mind, as you focus your energy on your breath and away from all the mind games and anxious stress and chaos the world provides daily.
What is great about breathing exercises is, when you become adept at them, you can do them anywhere, anytime. Everyone has to breathe. No one can force you not to take a breath. So, just thinking about your breath instead of something else is usually not a problem when you’re checking out at the grocery store, driving a car, watching television, listening to a boring story, or working out at the gym. Life is in the breath.
Just remember, if you are gaining weight particularly in the abdominal area, you may be a product of anxiety-cortisol production.