Julie’s Corner – Sandy’s Effect on Your Wellness

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Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath will be felt for weeks, months, even years in our community, state and region. The disruption of routine may also have you experiencing effects on your health and happiness.

Sandy has had a negative effect on many waistlines.Peruse social media and you are likely to find references to the Sandy 15 or find conversations with your friends shifting to the over indulgence in food and drink. Understanding the potential causes can help put you back on track.

Fight or Flight: Human beings experience physiological response to threats. Our bodies release hormones, such as cortisol, to aid in dealing with the potential danger. Extended stress, such as lack of power, home, gas, keeps cortisol at high levels. Cortisol, in turn, slows the metabolism so that we have the energy necessary to fight or flee, but most don’t complete the fight or flight, as in the case of Sandy. We experience the threat, but the physical release doesn’t occur and the extra pounds creep on. If you feel this may be happening to you, make it a priority to get a sweat inducing, heart pounding solid workout or activity session.

Eating for Stress, Boredom, Comfort: Eating behaviors, the reasons why we eat, may be shifted to reasons other than eating for true hunger. No work, school, or electric, may have left you twiddling your thumbs and turning to food for entertainment to combat boredom. Others may have used food as a coping mechanism. The lack of control we are experiencing in our environment may have us turning to food for stress relief or for comfort. Unfortunately, most comfort food is often high fat, starchy foods that pack the pounds on quickly, especially when are not getting your normal activity and exercise. If you can relate to this, ask yourself if you are truly eating for physical hunger.

On a positive note, you may have experienced heightened positive emotions such as gratitude and kindness, both which contribute to our happiness. For those who have had power restored quickly, been spared downed trees, have family safe, you probably recognized your good fortune and expressed gratitude. You may have also experience the kindness of a community, either in giving or receiving. You may have offered or received a shower, some power to recharge, a hot cup of coffee or bag of ice, all expressions of kindness. Even though the negative effects of Sandy’s wrath are overwhelming, people can be inclined to express greater gratitude and kindness, two powerful positive emotions that influence happiness.

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