Skip to content

Does this stress make me look fat?

Emotional stress can have a significant negative effect on your body, including your spine.

When you are stressed, the “Fight or Flight” response is triggered. This response becomes chronic for many of us … This causes muscle tension which can lead to imbalances, poor ranges of motion and misalignment of your vertebrae (bones of the spine). Your muscles can become less responsive and more prone to spasm, tightness and adhesions. This impacts your entire nervous system right from your spinal cord to the top of you head, and to the tips of your toes! Headaches, neck pain, shoulder tension, back stiffness, joint pain and dysfunction, wide-spread pain, inflammation and so much more can occur because of being “a little stress out”.

You can experience an increase in fat accumulation, and a reduction in muscle mass due elevated cortisol levels. Cortisol has also been show to “facilitate the consolidation of fear-based memories for future survival and avoidance of danger. Although short-term stress may be adaptive, maladaptive responses (eg, magnification, rumination, helplessness) to pain or non-pain-related stressors may intensify cortisol secretion and condition a sensitized physiologic stress response that is readily recruited.” ~ Journal of American Physical Therapy Association

Stress is a natural part of life, and it’s impossible to avoid it. Primitive survival patterns actually create neurological patterns to help us avoid danger and improve our chances of survival. This is great when you are actually in grave danger, but let’s face it, those times are few and far between nowadays! When was the last time you were being chased by a tiger?? Long-term, the impacts on our health are real (high blood pressure, alzheimer’s, heart disease, obesity, allergies, COPD, IBS….)


Try this: When you notice a zing of anxiety or a splash of fear, try to tune in…. where is the origin of it in your body, the very first place you feel it? Do you feel a pit in your stomach, a tightness in your diaphragm/solar plexus, a burning in your chest, a lump in your throat, a wash of heat that has you blush? Awareness is a powerful first step. Can you recall the earliest time you ever felt this, likely all the way back to your childhood? What was happening then? How did you feel then? No matter the outcome at the time, you made it through, and you are here now. Breathe…… the past happened in the past, and you are safe. Take a moment and tap into the Power of Pause. Feel your feet on the ground, be aware of the surface you are standing on or the seat your are sitting on. Tune into your surroundings… What do you see, what is the quality of light, can you smell anything, and what can you hear? Breathe fully and deeply, expanding your belly and chest. Repeat….. Feel better?

Meditation and Mindfulness practices can make a world of a difference. Taking time out for “you” even if it’s just 5 minutes, to unwind, breathe, reflect, and relax.  Repetition and consistency can create mindfulness as an empowering habit. You can find wonderful guided meditations on YouTube, and there lots of great apps. Our favourite is Insight Timer (Sarah Blondin). Others are Calm and Headspace. Restorative Yoga is another wonderful practice for relaxing and resetting the nervous system. Journaling and written gratitude is another great way to unwind.

Find a practice that works for you and let us know how it goes?

For online programs:

Our favourite guided meditation is What’s yours?




Add Your Comment (Get a Gravatar)

Your Name


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.