What is your go to coping strategy for dealing with your stress?
For many people – food is their answer. You may know stress eating by another term which is “eating my feelings.” Stress eating happens when one is eating not because they’re hungry, but because they’re trying to sooth their emotions during a stressful time or situation.
Stress eating isn’t a healthy way to deal with your stress and over time can cause weight gain, depression, and low self-esteem. It’s much better to learn more positive ways of managing your stress before your stress manages you. Read on for 5 tips help you stop stress eating.
You Are What You Eat
The first tip to stop stress eating is to eat healthy. Plenty of fruits, veggies and water. Often during stressful times we turn to sweet or salty junk food for comfort. Instead, if you’re having a hard time incorporating the new foods, make it a challenge. Create a food diary to track what you eat, when you eat, and what times you are hungriest so that you can figure out your triggers and the foods you eat during those times. You could also try out new recipes that incorporate healthier ingredients. To increase your water intake, you can do a few things such as getting a water bottle that has the times listed on the side to remind you to drink, set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to sip some water or use a water habit tracker.
One thing that you don’t want to do is eliminate all of your favorite foods because that’s only gonna tempt you more. Instead, make healthier food choices, by swapping your junk food for good for you food. It’s one tool in the fight against stress that will help you feel better and improve your overall health.
Tip number 2 is exercise. Oftentimes when people are stressed, they also can feel depressed and/or overwhelmed, exercising will help get rid of excess negative energy and keep you healthy. Your exercise doesn’t need to be anything extravagant. If you’re not up to going to the gym, you can simply work out at home, go jogging, running, play a sport, or walking to help manage your stress. You can also try learning something new like Zumba.
Exercise pumps your endorphins which help you feel better. And the more physically active you are, the less stress you’ll have and the better you’ll feel.
Tip number 3 is all about meditation. Meditation is soothing and calming which is powerful when it comes to stress, anxiety, and depression. It lowers your stress levels and can bring you into a relaxed state once you develop it as a habit. Even if you only meditate for 5 minutes, it can make a difference. Meditation is something that works best when you do it every day.
You can either meditate on your own, by watching videos on YouTube or downloading an app such as Calm or 5 Minute Escapes. Meditation gives you a new outlet to turn to instead of stress eating.
Don't Get Bored
Boredom is another reason why some turn to stress eating. You’re not hungry, but the snacks are calling your name. So the fourth way to stop stressful eating is by preventing boredom. The best way of preventing boredom is by being active. That’s where hobbies come into play. As you may know if you’ve been around the Making Time blog for any length of time, it my belief in creativity as a form of self-care. If you don’t already have an activity that you enjoy, consider buying some art supplies from your local art store so you can paint or draw. Or you can try out pottery, knitting, scrapbooking or even sewing.
If traditional hobbies are not your thing, try going out into your city, visit an art gallery, learn a new language, read a book, play board games, visit family or friends. Any one of these can help prevent boredom.
The reason why it’s important to prevent boredom is it helps occupy your mind. When your mind is preoccupied with something, then you normally don’t focus on stress eating.
Last but not least, is tip number 5 – support. All of us need a helping hand sometimes to get through stressful times. Calling a friend or family member for support is a great option to help overcome stress eating. If that doesn’t help, some other options are joining a support group or signing up for therapy.
Speaking to a professional will help you identify your stressors and food triggers, and you can create a plan that works best for you. A support group gives you access to other people who are dealing with similar stressors.
So that’s it! 5 things that you can do to help yourself with stress eating.
Let’s talk. What are you going to do as an alternative to stress eating? Let me know in the comments section.
Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a facilitator, stress management coach and author of “Yes I’m Grateful,” a gratitude journal. She believes in empowering her clients to help them manage their stress and increase self-care. In her spare time, she enjoys papercrafting, volunteering and travel. Connect with her on Instagram or LinkedIn