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Here's why your pants may be a little tighter too.

Julia Naftulin
March 06, 2017

Feeling a little, well, weighed down by the news lately? You're not alone. Over the weekend actress and singer Barbra Streisand complained on Twitter that recent headlines are prompting some physical changes in her body. "Donald Trump is making me gain weight," she wrote. "I start the day with liquids, but after the morning news, I eat pancakes smothered in maple syrup!"

RELATED: 25 Surprising Ways Stress Affects Your Health

Sounds familiar? It's not surprising we're all reaching for flapjacks (or Oreos or chips) after watching the news. During times of stress, our adrenal glands release the hormone cortisol, which has been linked to cravings for sugar and fat (aka comfort foods). But stress eating may not be the only reason our pants feel a little tighter these days. Cortisol may also affect fat storage in the body; and research has linked high levels of the hormone to more belly fat.

Just last month scientists from University College London found that feeling tense for months on end may raise a person's risk for obesity. The researchers measured cortisol levels (using hair clippings) in more than 2,500 men and women over the course of four years, and found that those with higher levels of the hormone tended to rank higher in terms of weight, body mass index, and waist circumference too.

To protect yourself from scale creep, try to find self-soothing techniques that don't involve pancakes smothered in syrup (sorry, Babs)—such as going for a walk in the fresh air, exercising, or creating a self-care ritual, like a nightly bath. Need more ideas? Check out "9 Easy Ways to Practice Self Care This Week." These are a few of the strategies that have worked for us.