Emotional health

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Stress reduction a key component in weight loss

Try some of these tips to reduce your stress levels.

Identify the sources of stress in your life

The first step to fighting stress is to figure out where it's coming from. This may be difficult at first if you are used to burying your true feelings. Try to be more mindful of factors that make you feel anxious, whether they are external, like too many schedule commitments, or internal, like your tendency to procrastinate. Try keeping a stress journal to help you identify patterns - note how you feel after incidents that may trigger stress, as well as how you felt and how you reacted.

Examine how you currently cope with stress

If your normal response to stress is to eat, drink, smoke, sleep too much, lash out at others, or engage in other potentially destructive behaviors, you'll need to develop new ways of dealing with stressful situations. Without proper stress management skills, weight-loss surgery patients can experience addiction transference, where their former compulsive eating is replaced by another damaging behavior.

Learn healthier ways to manage stress

There is no single response to stress that works for everyone. You may have to experiment with different strategies, or try different methods in different situations.

  • Avoid the stress trigger. Learn to say no when people ask you to volunteer your time, and try to avoid people who push your buttons. Look at your schedule to determine what's absolutely necessary, or what you can safely eliminate. Remember that it's okay to put your own needs first, even if it means bowing out of a club or committee.
  • Change the situation. If you can't avoid the stressor, see if you can change it. Practice speaking up if something is bothering you. Learning to manage your time better can also help you gain control of your schedule and reduce stress.
  • Change your reaction. If avoiding or changing the stressor aren't options, you may have to change the way you react to it. You may not always have control over the circumstances, but you have complete control over how to respond to them. Ask yourself if the situation is really worth getting upset over, or if it will still matter in a week or a month. Are you allowing yourself to feel stressed out over something that hasn't happened yet? Try bringing your awareness back to the present moment and focusing on the positive things in your life.
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