How Holiday Stress Affects Weight

Holiday Meal

Stress can affect many different aspects of your health, including your weight. And with temptation from eggnog, cookies, and other fattening foods and drinks, the holidays can make losing or maintaining your weight even more challenging.

How does stress affect your body?

The concept of “stress eating” is rooted in science. Stress triggers adrenal responses in the body are referred as a “fight or flight” response. This stress response can trigger an impulse to overeat and result in a loss of muscle mass and increased fat storage.

Your body is likely to produce more cortisol when you’re under stress, which attacks muscle mass, increases your appetite, and leads to other problems such as storing fat in the abdominal area and higher blood sugar levels.

What are the warning signs of stress?

Everyone reacts to stress differently, but these warning signs are common:

  • Choosing more high-calorie “comfort foods”
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Neck or back pain
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety

By noticing how you respond to stress, you can help take steps to alleviate it before your symptoms worsen.

How can you help relieve stress?

A certain amount of stress is inevitable, especially during the holidays as you juggle family and financial responsibilities. You probably feel like you don’t have enough time to get everything done.

The following can help you keep your stress at a manageable level:


Exercise can help reduce your body’s levels of stress hormones like cortisol and boost your release of endorphins - natural chemicals that help improve your mood. It can also help you sleep better and feel better, which can help you eat less.

Say no sometimes

Especially during the holidays, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the demands on your time. Be ready to say “no” to some things to help lighten the load.

Don’t expect perfection

Think realistically and don’t sweat every detail. Things don’t need to be perfect to build great memories.

Talk to your doctor about supplements

Several supplements are thought to help reduce stress, including lemon balm, omega-3 fatty acids, kava-kava, and green tea. Talk to your doctor before you start taking supplements, especially if you take medication.

Why Choose Dr. Purcell

If you’d like to learn more about managing your stress and weight, make an appointment today for an evaluation with Dr. Purcell. Patients have the opportunity to visit the clinic weekly for weigh-ins and check-ups with our dedicated weight loss team. Set up appointments with our dieticians for a plan before the holidays. The right nutrition can make all the difference, for more products Dr. Purcell recommended, browse her store today.

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