Zen is synonymous with being in the moment. Meditation and mindfulness are both great ways to reduce stress. Regular practice can profoundly improve your mental game and release physical tension.
Chronic stress is the norm as many people work frantically to get more done. Did you know that this constant surge of cortisol in the body can contribute to weight gain among other potentially dangerous health challenges?
The stress response is a primitive reaction designed for survival. Ideally the stress response is triggered when there is life threatening danger followed by periods of calm when the body has the chance to rejuvenate itself.
The stress reaction uses up resources the body would otherwise use to keep the immune system strong, support healthy digestion and maintain balance in heart rate and blood pressure. Is it any wonder that stress accounts for as much as 90% of the visits to the physician?
During the stress reaction, the body is on high alert and has to work very hard to maintain this hypervigilant state. When the stress reaction is chronic, as is true today, the natural relaxation phase of the stress reaction doesn’t kick in and the body becomes less capable of coping, leading to fatigue and illness.
One of the serious challenges to healthy weight and sustainable energy is the high circulating cortisol that results from chronic stress. Cortisol tells the body to store fat and metabolism weakens under chronic stress. Cortisol or the hunger hormone creates cravings for salt, sweet and crunchy, creamy foods. This sets up the vicious cycle of cravings, increased appetite, increased fast food and more cravings.
The stress response is a survival mechanism. The primitive part of the brain is not engaged with the rational, logical, thinking part of the brain. There is a total discount. And one of the body’s defense mechanisms to ensure survival is to stimulate hunger in order to ensure the body gets more fuel. Today, the stress reaction is triggered, without any real danger, and you are left with hunger and cravings triggered by cortisol. This sets up the vicious cycle and fuels the desire for more junk food, fast food and comfort food. This leads to high calorie intake with little to no nutrition.
Interrupting the stress reaction and building your capacity for stress will give you the tools you need to stop the vicious cycle of overeating. Regular practice of these methods will make the difference in your own wellbeing and ultimately in your weight.
Zen Your Way to Quiet Mind
Deep breathing. Breathe in on 4 and out on 4. Focus on the area around your heart and breathe in and through your heart. This can be effective in calming your thoughts.
Imagine your thoughts are clouds and watch as they drift out of the sky leaving it blue and clear. You can use this visualization as you deep breathe. Visualization is a wonderful way to de-stress.
Mindfulness. Be aware of the moment and focus only on what is happening right now. This is a great way to be present and shift out of the obsessive thought loops so typical of the stress reaction.
Get up and move. Movement like Yoga, walking and other exercise is a great way to shift out of overthinking to releasing tension through movement. Yes, movement can be a type of meditation like Tai Chi as some people really cannot sit and simply “not” think however as the body is engaged, it is easier to quiet and calm the mind.
Get your “zen” on.
Check out the playlists and shift out of the chronic stress mode!
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