Stress is one of the clearest causes of weight gain out there. High levels of stress increase your chances of gaining weight across the board. You're more likely to be fatigued and have little energy for exercise. You're also probably pretty distracted, and not paying as much attention to what you're eating as you usually would. According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can also lead to emotional eating, where you turn to comfort foods in an attempt to reduce the amount of anxiety you're feeling.
Of course, stress eating doesn't usually work in the long term. Any healthy way you can reduce stress should have a positive effect on your overall health and weight-loss efforts. There are a lot of ways to do this, from exciting hobbies to socialization. One incredibly effective method people often overlook is meditation. Meditation is simply the act of actively dedicating time to quiet thought and reflection. Doing this each day might have a huge impact on how anxious you feel, and thus how healthy you are. Here's a quick guide to meditation for weight loss:
Quiet and calm
Meditation doesn't necessarily require a quiet, calm atmosphere, but that kind of environment certainly helps. When you're sitting down to meditate, do everything you can to reduce distractions. Turn off your television, and close your laptop. If you live on a busy street or have noisy neighbors, shut your windows as well.
Some people find total silence distracting - if that's the case, play some gentle music or white noise. Avoid any music with sudden sounds, energetic sections or lyrics, as these are most likely to take you out of the moment.
"Quiet thoughtfulness can help you gain perspective."
Meditation is about being mindful of what's going on in your life - it's not about obsessing over it. Don't try to analyze or figure out all of your problems during your meditation session - simply acknowledge what they are. Passively recognizing your concerns may seem like it's an ineffective way to spend your time, but you're likely to gain some perspective through the practice. Issues can start to seem much bigger than they actually are if you're ignoring or avoiding them - meditation allows you to face them head-on.
Guided or not
Try guided and unguided meditation to see which method works best for you. You may find that you have a clear preference toward one or the other, or you might find that both give you different, but positive, results. There are plenty of other forms of meditation as well, some of which include music, art or movement. Try plenty of methods to see what works for you.
Giving it a try
If you've never meditated before and have no idea where to start, here's a quick guide. Go into a quiet room and sit in a comfortable position. Turn on gentle music if you'd like, but otherwise remove all distractions. For your first time, set a timer for five or ten minutes. No worries if you can't do it the whole time - meditation can take practice. Once your timer is set, you can start meditating.
Close your eyes, and try to clear your mind. If you start thinking of something distracting or worrisome, acknowledge it and then actively decide not to think about it anymore. Some people enjoy visualizing thoughts coming to them as leaves in a pool - they float toward you, and you gently push them away. Try sit quietly for the length of time you've set aside - as you build patience and skill, you'll be able to work up to meditating for longer periods.