There was a time I thought that being busy all the time, running around chasing children or having all sorts of pastimes was a stress worth pursuing. I figured, the busier I am, the less time I have to think about eating. Ha!
Enter chaos theory. Contrary to my misguided impressions, chaos, busy-ness, rushing around, and an overfull slate of activities do nothing to curb my desire to eat. Au contraire, Matilda! Have you heard the word cortisol? That’s the so-called stress hormone, and it’s not pretty. It is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Specifically, it secreted in higher levels during the body’s “fight or flight” response, the primordial parts of our reptilian brain. Strangely, some of us might well be addicted to stress because of some of the effects of higher cortisol levels in the blood stream. For example, higher cortisol levels might produce
- A quick burst of energy (for survival reasons)
- Heightened memory functions
- Lower sensitivity to pain
But the deleterious effects are much more far-reaching. Volumes have been written about the negative effects of chronic stress. And here I thought that a life of chaos was good, encouraging creativity and pushing me to get things done (the old saying: You want something done? Give it to a busy man).
But I was wrong. When I exercise, then shower, put on some fresh clothes, makeup and perfume, I feel calm, relaxed and “gentle.” I also feel far less ravenous. The urge to stuff any food into my mouth is gone, in favor of a more relaxed approach to eating. This is very revealing. Stress is, therefore, not good. Pay attention! Take things more gently, plan quiet time, sitting with a good book, don’t fill up every slot on your calendar, allow yourself to look at the birds and just be.