Step 6 To Losing Weight – Learn To Relax and Get Lots of Sleep

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Stress is a combination of responses that take place within our bodies, and those responses can be acute or chronic. Acute stressors occur on a daily basis, and can include a wide variety of conditions. Consider it as a quiet battle between the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). It’s commonly referred to as the “flight or fight” response and it can help save our lives. This type of stress is normal, but over time stress can become chronic and when left unmanaged, stress can destroy our health.

It has been proven that chronic stress shrinks the size of the hypothalamus gland, increases blood pressure, and causes the release of many powerful chemicals and hormones within the brain and body. The primary stress hormone released is called cortisol, and it has been associated with fat storage in adults. Neurotransmitters within the brain can be inhibited by stress, which leave our bodies susceptible to illness. Chronic stress can lead to many dangerous health conditions including; heart disease, stroke, immune disorders, insomnia and other sleep disturbances, sexual and reproductive problems, among other physical dysfunctions within our bodies. It has been determined that many illnesses are caused by stress and our inability to cope with it constructively and responsibly.

By recognizing the stressors you experience in your life, you don’t need to fall victim to stress. Instead, you can decide to deal with it and control stress with a healthy plan, including some techniques that will assist you in managing your individual health needs.

Managing Stress
There are many things you can do yourself to manage stress and heal your body from it. The first thing I recommend you do is to change poor eating habits by eliminating foods that are not good for you, such as, too many refined sugars and foods loaded with sodium. And, become involved in some type of regular physical activity that brings you joy and releases your mind from tension and frustration.

relax-reduce-stressFor many years, I felt just like the hamster on the wheel. I was always on the move, but getting nowhere fast. Somewhere in my mind I had instilled the belief that ending my routine would cause some horrible outcome to transpire. I would become homeless, jobless, aimless and without purpose. What a terrible way to live. I was consumed by anxiety and the constant fear of failure. My mind and my body were in turmoil!

During this difficult time, I was a single parent to a child with chronic medical conditions. The stress I existed within combined with the poor choices I made to deal with the stressors caught up with me. I found myself both physically and emotionally wrecked. Without going into details, my inability to deal with stress responsibly affected me by manifesting itself in ways that have changed me forever. Drastic weight gain was only one indicator that stress had taken over my life. Other symptoms were not so obvious. I became so miserable that I had to disconnect my mind and body, thus ignoring myself and the needs which fed my spirit.

Learn To Relax
One of the activities which helped me to relax and refocus on myself was yoga. While I was in treatment for alcohol abuse, I began to participate in a regular yoga class. At first, yoga was quite difficult for me because I was so fat. Because I continued to practice yoga regularly, and combined my sessions with a healthy diet and a regular walking program, I was able to drop the weight. The reward was that my yoga sessions became more fulfilling. I continue to depend upon yoga to help keep me limber, free from pain, relaxed and focused.

Another way to relax is through prayer and meditation. When I practice yoga, I also participate in a short meditative relaxation session to help quiet my mind. During yoga and meditation, you are supposed to focus on your breathing. Prayer is a time to connect with GOD and thank him for all your blessings. It’s also a time to pray for the blessings of others. These simple practices benefit your physical and emotional health by helping you cope with life in general. Choose whichever ones work best for you, and learn to live gratefully by doing so.

There are many activities and hobbies one can participate in to relax. My favorite hobby is horseback riding. Ever since I was a very little girl, I have loved to ride! I enjoy the connectedness I share with my horse when I’m on her back. I have always been in awe of their power, spirit, and grace. When I’m riding, I’m at one with her. We’re balanced, youthful, and free, when galloping down a perfect trail, through the trees, like the wind. To me, it’s like flying! It’s the one time I feel blessed beyond words and rich beyond my dreams.

Sleep Is The Most Important Aspect of My Health Care Plan
I had never experienced insomnia when I was younger, and sleeping was not a problem for me. But, after my child was born it became increasingly more difficult for me to get a good night’s sleep. I remember begging the doctor for help because the lack of sleep was making me feel crazy!

relax-reduce-stress-sleepWhen we sleep our bodies recover from each day. Many believe that each individual requires approximately eight hours of sleep for sixteen hours of awake time. Some studies have proven that sleep deprivation is more dangerous to our health than a lack of food. A lack of sleep can cause us to gain weight because it affects the way our bodies store fat. It can also cause high blood pressure, and a decreased ability of our immune systems to fight diseases.

Many people who do not get enough sleep experience learning disabilities and have problems with their memory. A lack of sleep suppresses the amount of melatonin and leptin production (which helps with weight loss), while increasing the levels of ghrelin and cortisol within our bodies (can cause weight gain).

During deep sleep, our pituitary gland produces and releases human growth hormone (HGH). HGH is very important to our health because it is responsible for creating lean muscle tissue and reducing fat storage. HGH decreases with age, so getting enough sleep becomes more important for this reason. Sleep enhances learning and memory, rejuvenates us for the next morning and allows us to be more productive throughout the day.

Sleep and Relaxation Help To Fight Stress
Each day when you get up, take a few minutes to count your blessings. When you go to work, take time for a break and go to a special place where you can spend some quality time with yourself (I take my mat to the broom closet and go through my yoga stretches). Have a healthy lunch and a snack prepared. Drink plenty of fresh water. Make time to get some exercise during your busy day and when you are not working, plan to participate in an activity that brings you joy! What was it you loved to do when you were young? Do it! Clear your mind of stressors from your day and be grateful you are alive. In the evening, thank GOD for giving you this life, this love, and this opportunity to make the most of all you are and can still become. Relax and appreciate being you!

Step 1: Sober Up | Step 2: Improve Your Diet | Step 3: Condition Your Body
Step 4: Put Your Best Face Forward | Step 5: Get Rid of Clutter | Step 6: Learn to Relax
Step 7: Attitude for Success | Step 8: Go After What You Want

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About Author

Renee Haxby

Renee Haxby provides a diverse variety of personal lifestyle and wellness coaching programs to clients residing in the Pacific Northwest, and on-line in several different formats to women nationwide. The primary purpose is to teach others to overcome challenges, achieve goals, and reinvent oneself through healthy options for success. See my profile page for more information!

2 Comments

  1. Dearest Renee, though we are geographically, genetically and physically quite different, we have similar life paths. I can’t thank you enough for this brilliant message that awakened in me a sense that I always possessed. What a lovely, hearty and honest article. I wish you all the luck and love from the universe! Blessings 🙂

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