Do you eat foods that are bad for you when you're really stressed? I sure have, and evidently this is a huge issue for people, especially women. USA Today ran an interesting article about this phenomenon and how it affects those who are under chronic stress. I can definitely see how chronic stress should be differentiated from random bouts of stress. Do you hate your job, have a stressful marriage, take care of a loved one with a terminal disease, or are wondering how you'll make your rent/mortgage payments each month? That's chronic stress (the kind that gives people ulcers too - ouch!). These types of situations lead women to crave fatty foods, and combined with less exercise and higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), can lead to obesity.
So what can we do to fight this natural urge? Turns out that exercising is a great way to fight depression and anxiety, all of which can happen when we're under any kind of stress. Personally, I found in the last few months that my anxiety levels have increased significantly, and all of this was while I was exercising less or not at all. I've always viewed running as meditative, since I can let all the worries go while it's just me and the road. The natural high you get from exercising really makes a difference.
So while it's hard to justify the time needed for 30 minutes of exercise, whether it's a walk or riding a bike or swimming, try to find some time anyway. It really does help improve your state of mind!