Stressful Habits and Why

I have observed, and even done some stressful habits myself. Eating a lot, eating little, and working out have been 3 things I have done when I was stressed out. I'm curious as to why humans do these things when they're stressed. What in the body triggers this, and are the habits based on personality or the situation?

It is a fact, that people do crave food when they are stressed. Usually, the food isn't healthy, it's usually rich with a lot of sugar and fat. There is a reason. Stress brings on a hormone known as "cortisol". This is due to high adrenal levels. High levels of cortisol in the body can bring on the crave for salty and sweet foods. Cortisol stimulates fat, carbohydrate metabolism, insulin, and maintains blood sugar levels. The result of the effects of cortisol can lead to an increase in appetite.
Now that we know cortisol causes you to eat a lot, I wonder what causes you to eat less. When some people are stressed, they turn into what is known as a restrictive eater. A restrictive eater reduces there food intake. This in turn, increases there stress level because they aren't satisfying what the body naturally wants, which is fatty foods. Also, being deprived of the nutrients that one needs is very dangerous to health. Restrictive eaters sometimes turn to emotional eaters (eating a lot of food), which will cause serious weight problems with gaining and losing weight. This can affect you for life.

One thing that I notice I do more when I'm stressed is exercising. I think that it is definitely a good stress reliever personally, and it is much better then having unhealthy diet patterns. Exercise can increase your brains neurotransmitters, called endorphins. The endorphins make your brain "feel-good". Also, when I'm exercising, I find that I forget what is on my mind and what is stressing me out in the first place. Exercise can also help control your sleeping patterns. Often, people have trouble sleeping in times of stress, depression, and anxiety. Exercise is one tip to avoid the negative symptoms of being stressed out.


I tend to experience all of these things during a stressful time in my life. I always tend to eat more though. However, when this happens I then force myself to work out so i find a nice balance in these habits. I also tend to sleep less when i am stressed out which is a very common thing to do. I found an article (given below) that says "Stress is our response to daily life. It affects us emotionally, physically, and behaviorally. The right amount of stress can be a positive force that helps us to do our best and to keep alert and energetic. Too much stress, however, can make us tense, anxious, and can cause sleep problems." This article continues on to give tips to relief stress in order to sleep better. Its very important to remember that sleep is important when you are feeling stressed.

I would consider myself to be an emotional eater. When I get upset it is easy for me to start eating. However, when I'm stressed (which usually means I am busy) I tend to eat less. I know that when your body is under stress it can sometimes trigger sympathetic nervous system responses. These responses, also known as "fight or flight" responses, include symptoms like increased heart rate and pupil dilation. (You can compare all the parasympathetic and sympathetic responses here). The sympathetic response I personally experience is "nervous stomach". This is very similar to the sensation of butterflies or indigestion. I find that deep breathing always makes my stomach feel better probably because it helps me de-stress. What kinds of responses do you suffer from under stress?

I definitely consider myself to be a stress and emotional eater. When I am under stress or am worried about something I tend to crave chocolate or more unhealthy foods. When I am carefree (which is not very often) I use that extra energy to attempt to eat healthy. I always use exercise to relieve stress. It is a good way to cancel out those fatty foods and also get your mind off of all that is causing the stress. I doubt you have ever seen Legally Blonde, but in the movie a fitness mogul is accused with murder. Elle Woods doesn't believe it is true because she exercises and releases endorphins, which make you happy and "happy people just don't kill their husbands." I think that she is extremely right, and her point agrees with yours. Being stressed causes you to crave something that makes you feel good for that short amount of time- something sweet. But exercising will relieve the stress for longer because it has a better effect-especially for us girls. If I eat a lot of chocolate when I am stressed I feel guilty, but if I go for a run instead I feel energized and ready to take on anything.

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