Is stress getting the better of your weight at work?
Yes and no. It's more that stress at work can translate into unhealthy behaviors after you leave the office. As part of a study published in 2009 in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, researchers surveyed 2,782 male employees of a company in New York State and found that "chronic stress — due to such factors as too much job responsibility and not enough control over work duties — was significantly associated with weight gain among the employees. Turns out the culprit wasn't some physiological reaction triggered by the stress — an increase of so-called stress hormones, for example. Rather, stress likely led to unhealthy behaviors, namely less exercise and more sedentary time watching TV, which themselves led to the weight gain. In essence, stress at work often makes people fall back on unhealthy behaviors at home."
How to gain some control?
Keep up with exercise. Not only is exercise a proven stress buster, this study shows that exercise is a casualty of a stressful workplace. If you have trouble getting motivated, try walking, which the American Heart Association says has the lowest dropout rate of any form of exercise.
Cut down on TV time. It's tempting to plant yourself down on the couch and escape from stress with a trip to TV land. But too much television time can make you depressed, and it's not exactly helping you stay slim. On the other hand, watching less TV seems to help people lose weight even if they don't replace TV time with exercise time.
Limit homework. If taking work home with you is adding to your stress, try compartmentalizing instead of multitasking to get more done during the day. For instance, if you have a presentation, designate a time block during your workday to devote to it, and don't let a ringing Blackberry or incoming emails interfere with that. Knowing that you have time set aside to catch up on other tasks makes it easier to concentrate on one thing at a time.
Spend time with someone special. A study done in 2008 found that intimate contact with their partners lowered stress hormone levels in working couples.
Learn more about finding a healthy weight.