She is correct.
Our bodies are designed for active stress (tigers and warriors), not passive stress (jobs, family, being overweight, etc). When we experience stress (passive or active), our bodies release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
Cortisol and adrenaline are really helpful for active stress.
- cortisol shuts down the parts of your brain you dont need to survive: cognitive function is seriously diminished. Our bodies doesnt want us to think about fighting or fleeing, its better to pick one based on instinct and not analyze!
- adrenaline production increases to enable fight or flee
- they empty your stomach by producing a bunch of stomach acid, not having a gut full of stuff actually helps you flee
- the list goes on, but you get the idea
Now, those stress hormones are ONLY removed from your body thru action (fight or flee). This is why exercise actually helps with stress.
In modern society we all experience massive amounts of passive stress, its fairly new - last 100 years. And our bodies have no idea how to cope with it. The same hormones are released, only:
- in traffic or family or work you need cognitive functions and they arent as sharp
- many stomach issues are related to the ongoing passive stress because of the acid overproduction (it can cause ulcers too)
- we cant actually fight or flee, so the hormones dont go away. they build up in the blood stream and cause side effects like weight gain in the medically worst places (belly fat) and an serious increase in carb cravings
I highly recommend (though its a little challenging and dense with info):
Undoing Perpetual Stress: The Missing Connection Between Depression, Anxiety and 21st Century Illness
It isnt only informative, it has helpful suggestions.
Anecdotally, my fastest and easiest weight loss spurt happened 2 years ago when I lost 30lbs in 2 months without even trying exclusively by addressing my stress. I actually was eating MORE because my ulcer also improved.
In addition the suggestions in the book, here are some I have found very helpful:
- meditation (there are many kinds, not just the think of nothing kind...and dont do it when you are stressed, try when you are calm...integrating 3 mins of meditation to my morning really, really helped)
- working out. obvious
- acupuncture (I was a total skeptic, helped in the very first session with stress and moreover with the related tummy issues...when many drs and many meds had not)
- hypnotherapy (really this was guided meditation and visualization, it helped me work thru many issues)
- touch, any kind. I isolate myself when stressed. Women need another hormone called oxytocin and we produce it most when we do things focused around touching, loving, giving, helping, sharing, caring. Sounds totally not feminist, but its science and its true
- removing stresses if you can. Getting out of a bad relationship and a job that wasnt making me happy...again obvious