Healthy ways to deal with stress so it doesn’t sabotage your weight loss

  • 2 Minutes Read
Katherine Isacks
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

Are you looking to press the reset button on stress eating and find some healthy ways to deal with stress, instead? Here are stress management ideas to check out instead of turning to food and drink to unwind.

Healthy ways to deal with stress

What happens if you don’t find healthy ways to deal with stress?

Do you find that you eat unhealthy foods or snack more often when stress levels run high? If so, you are not alone! If left unchecked for too long, chronic stress can result in weight gain. A newsletter from Harvard Medical School says that we often deal with stress in ways that can be harmful to our health. This includes activities such as binge-watching Netflix™, sleeping too much (or not enough), or drinking alcohol as ways to cope with increased pressure and life’s demands. These avoidant behaviors might provide temporary relief or a distraction from the pain or anxiety associated with stress. Consequently, they can also sabotage your efforts to lose weight and keep it off or result in unforeseen addiction and other challenges.

Consider instead, some healthy ways to deal with stress

There are lots of different ways to manage stress in a healthy way. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Reconnect with nature

Forest bathing (or deliberately immersing oneself in nature) has been shown to decrease anxiety and have a relaxing effect on the mind. A traditional nature outing might include a walk in a park or bike ride along a creek. However, making a concerted effort to direct your attention to the sounds, trees, sky, and trail keeps you in the moment, allowing you to connect with your present surroundings. That is what the Japanese call “forest bathing.” In addition to the mental benefits, time in nature helps boost the immune system, lowers blood pressure, and helps regulate sleep. Finding different ways to build activity into your week will help make weight loss that much easier. When’s the last time you made it outside to enjoy nature?

The power of support

Whether you are someone who feels better after venting to a friend or simply enjoys the accountability that comes with having a walking buddy, social support is powerful! Having someone to connect with, whether over text, phone, or in-person, may improve your ability to cope with stressful situations. In addition, research shows that people with a strong social network have a lower mortality risk. In fact, one study found that people with stronger social relationships had a 50% increased likelihood of survival than those with weaker social relationships.

Consider a hobby as a healthy way to deal with stress

Have you ever been curious about how to distract yourself from stress? Research shows that healthier distractions such as spending time engaged in a hobby can help decrease chronic stress. When’s the last time you allowed yourself a few hours to dust off that old hobby? Find a leisure-time activity that provides you with something positive in return for your time and effort. For example, gardening is a perfect way to get outside in the fresh air and burn calories.

For other hobby ideas check out:

A healthy way to deal with stress when it comes to snacks

Finally, if you know you tend to snack when stress levels rise, keep your refrigerator stocked with low-calorie vegetables. Almost all non-starchy veggies fall into this category–e.g., baby carrots, celery, peppers, green leafy veggies, broccoli, etc. They are so low in calories that you can munch without incurring real caloric damage. Plus, you'll rack up lots of vitamins and minerals with such colorful, crunchy, and healthy snacks. Just watch what you put on the veggies–many dips and dressings are high in calories, while herbs and spices are essentially calorie-free.

Need some inspiration when it comes to snacking? MyNetDiary has you covered with these healthy immune-boosting snack ideas.

Stress is a natural part of life. Yet, chronic stress has been correlated with weight gain. Experiment with getting outside, connecting with friends, or reconnecting with an old hobby or starting a new one are just a few of the many healthy ways to deal with stress. You are worth it!

Related content

What is stress and 3 tips to overcome it

The physical and mental benefits of yoga

3 ways to stop emotional eating

Reviewed and updated by Brenda Brasow on May 30, 2023.

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Weight Loss->Behavior
Jun 2, 2023
Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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