In addition to managing your physical activity levels, dietary habits and lifestyle practices (such as getting a good night’s sleep), another way to contribute to a healthy weight is by managing your stress. Stress can actually affect your weight in two ways: physical and psychological.

In the first instance, your stressed body will release hormones to compensate for anxiety, including cortisol, which is commonly associated with the fight-or-flight response and comes with adrenaline – of the good or bad kind. Although this hormone is constantly present in our systems and good for us in moderation, when it comes in the form of an overdose, it can sharply spike your hunger. And even though cortisol can also boost your metabolism, it’s more likely that you’ll be eating more than your body can burn in compensation if you’re consistently attacked by hormonal rushes due to distress. Plus, when you come down from this rush, you may feel lethargic and downbeat, preferring to sit on the couch and eat chips and watch TV than be active – much less head to the gym.

In the second instance, stress can affect how we make decisions and behave in our environment. For example, a burdened mind might be less able to make the smart choices necessary to maintain your weight on a daily basis. It’s harder to relax and enjoy activities like taking a walk. It may also be difficult to plan working out into your hectic schedule. You may also be far more motivated to “stress eat” and seek out comfort foods rather than nutritional ones when it comes time for a meal. Besides that, you may be stressed because of time constraints, which might lead you to less meal-planning or meal-prep time and seeking resources like fast food establishments or the vending machine rather than thinking of alternate, healthier options.

All in all, if you care about your weight and health (and we know you do), then losing control in a period of stress in your life can also, well, stress you out more. It can become a vicious cycle that’s hard to manage once it gets out of hand. Thankfully, working out your tension is an ideal way to manage your stress. So beat it before it wipes you out by staying positive, eating right and remembering to visit your favorite Greenville gym.