Can having stressful thoughts, anxiety and internal tension impact your body composition?
Yes they can. Keep reading to understand how.
“I Was Having Anxious Thoughts and My Watch Told Me That I Was Stressed!”
My client shared with me something interesting the other day. She said that her Garmin and started buzzing and told her that she needs to calm down. When I asked what she was doing in the moment when it happened, she told me that she was having anxious thoughts about her upcoming work situation.
What Happens In Our Bodies When We Are Stressed?
What my client told me is a proof of just how impactful the internal, self created stress can be. We can create a strong physiological response with our thoughts alone, even when there's zero real danger, for example a wild animal chasing you or someone running towards you on a dark street.
We can create the same response with our thoughts and as a result
- The heart starts beating faster
- Breathing speeds up
- Blood pressure goes up
and so on.
What Happens In The Mind, Happens In The Body
It's helpful to look at our minds and bodies as ONE not two separate things because what happens in the mind is always reflected in the body.
That's why being chronically stressed will make your fat loss and muscle gain harder.
We have to work on balancing our nervous system if we want to feel well mentally and also physically. For those who have a body composition goal (less fat, more muscle mass) — balancing our nervous system and relaxing enough is just as important as your calories and macros. Which are absolutely important but not the only things to look at.
How To Balance Your Nervous System To Stay Healthy And Fit
There are many ways to calm your nervous system, here are some favorites of mine:
The first thing most people think of is to take a long hot bath. That's fine, but consider the cold too! I love the effects I get after taking an ice bath. It's been shown to activate the parasympathetic side of our nervous system and improve the vagal tone.
If you want to try this out, join my 5-day Cold Water Challenge. You will learn how to get started with cold water exposure, by doing one simple thing every day. By day 5, you'll be able to take a full ice bath!
That is, through the nose, and using your diaphragm. Your mouth should be closed most of the time and chest stay still when breathing. There are many breathing exercises that will help to bring you into the parasympathetic state more often, which is exactly what we want for stress reduction.
Hug a friend, partner, snuggle with a pet, wrap your own arms around yourself or put your hand on your heart. That will help to soothe your system and send your nervous system the signal of calm.
Being in nature is calming and restoring. I get outside every day, even during the summer heat in Phoenix! And we do a longer hike most weekends. Leave your phone home or in the car if at all possible, or at least don't check it too much during your nature time!
All this is very simple but actually doing these things is where most people get stuck. It's important to get consistent with the small things that help us to balance our nervous system and reduce stress if we want great health.
I've seen people who have been stuck in their fat loss journey, start getting results when they finally let go of being on the go-go-go all the time, and when the body realizes that there is no constant fire that needs to be put out every minute. Because in order to let go of anything extra, the body needs to feel safe first.