Modern life is complicated and the struggle with stress is REAL! According to an American Psychological Association survey, nearly one-fourth of Americans rate their stress levels as 8 or more on a 10 point scale. Chronic stress develops when we feel we have no control over stressful events in our lives and no way out. When your body is under stress, your appetite increases and it becomes harder to sleep. It’s no wonder that we “stress eat” and gain weight when the stressors of life come at us hard.
If maintaining weight, reducing stress and living healthy were as easy as knowledge from experts who educate us on how to live our lives, there would be no weight concerns among us. The reality is that things are much more complex and nuanced than that. The key to living a healthy lifestyle is getting a handle on our stress levels, emotions and how we think about and consume food.
A Mindful Exercise is the Stress Stopping Equation A+B=C
To reduce your stress response, corresponding food cravings and unwanted eating behaviors, consider the following Stress Stopping Equation A +B=C created by Dr. Albert Ellis, founder of the Albert Ellis Institute.
A stands for the Activating event that causes stress.
B stands for the Beliefs that come to mind during the stressful event. For example: This is awful; the worst thing ever. I am not sure I can get through this!
C stands for the Consequences of your beliefs about the stressful event: your reaction. You may feel angry, sad, frustrated, out of control, physical symptoms may include shallow breath, rapid heartbeat, and lightheadedness.
Dr. Ellis states that the way to think differently about a stressful event is to challenge your beliefs (B) about the situation in order to change the consequences (C) of the stressful event. The consequences of positive beliefs are relaxed mood, positive outlook, release of physical symptoms and the need to control, accept and allow yourself to be present in the moment.
Putting the A+B=C Equation into Practice
This week, make a point to mentally define and write down your A+B=C stress provoking scenarios.
Identify common stress activating (A) events in your life.
Recognize your automatic negative beliefs (B) about the events you’ve listed.
Examine your negative beliefs and re-frame them in a positive manner.
Now evaluate the consequences (C) of this exercise. How do you feel now after believing in a positive way about this stressful event?
With continual use of Dr. Ellis’s A +B =C equation you are bound to feel a reduction of immediate physical stress responses, less anxiety, less sweet food cravings, less emotional eating, increased feelings of happiness and gratitude, and an increase in deep restorative sleep. All of this translates to living with less chronic stress and an increased belief in your ability to reach and maintain your weight loss plan.
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