Poor diet and lack of exercise are mainly blamed when it comes to weight gain. And it’s true: those are the primary culprits for packing on the pounds. But there’s something else – often overlooked – that plays a major role: stress.
Whether it’s extreme and overwhelming or low-level and “under the radar”, stress is a big driver of belly fat. It can cause you to put off a workout, reach for junk food instead of a nutritious meal, and in general, forces you to lead an unhealthy lifestyle.
Whatever the cause, stress leads to a larger waistline. This is largely due to cortisol – a hormone responsible for the “fight or flight response”. And in the old days this was critical. It allowed you to quickly get away from dangerous situations (e.g. being chased by a lion).
But today it’s a different story. We’re not worried about being eaten and face few of the perils of our ancestors. Nevertheless, work, family obligations, financial worries, etc. cause chronic stress leading to weight gain and poor health.
Given that, it’s very important to reduce stress as much as possible. And one of the best ways to do this is exercise. Of course, when you’re under pressure working out is the last thing on your mind.
But if you can force yourself to get started, you’ll experience very quick relief. It takes your mind off the day to day worries while you’re doing it. Plus, physical activity releases endorphins – “feel-good” chemicals in the brain that help you cope better.
Now, aside from exercise and any other activities you may enjoy (e.g. gardening) there are natural herbs you can take to help you in the stress department. Unlike drugs these come with little-to-no side-effects, are not addictive, and are a better choice overall to calm your nerves.
Here are a few good options:
Valerian root. This may be the smelliest herb you’ll ever come across (and not in a good way). Nevertheless, it’s a great natural solution for stress. It’s been used for over 1,000 years, is extremely safe, and best of all, effective. It helps anxiety, insomnia, and even headaches. You can find valerian in almost any natural health store in capsule or tablet form.
Passionflower. This mild sedative can be found in tea form and is proven to reduce anxiety and insomnia. In fact, some studies show that it’s as effective as prescription drugs as far as the former is concerned. That said, talk to your doctor before taking passionflower (or any other supplement) if you’re currently on medications.
Chamomile. There are few problems that tea doesn’t fix. And when it comes to chamomile, stress is the major target. It relaxes muscles, soothes nervous headaches, and promotes better sleep. You can find it in capsule or tablet form. But one of the best ways to take it is as a simple tea. It’s widely available in grocery stores and highly recommended.
In conclusion, by combining “nature’s medicine” (along with a bit of exercise) you can drastically lower your stress levels. This goes a long way to ward of belly fat, help you get rid of any you have, and stay healthy overall. So, fix yourself a cup of tea, relax, and enjoy!