Sugar-Coating Stress

Got stress?

Most people do . . . and it can be hard to deal with. Stress takes its toll, both mentally and physically. Stress is listed as one of the major contributing factors to just about everything these days. And if you already have some physical or mental ailment, stress will make it worse.

No matter what causes your stress, you need ways to deal with it.

And it’s EASY to reach for chocolate – that immediate, sweet life preserver that doesn’t talk back or demand anything of us. Remember, life is hard . . . food is easy.

Do you recognize these patterns?

Some people reach for food in ANTICIPATION of a challenging event or task, in order to calm down or psyche themselves into it.

Suppose you have to make a presentation at an upcoming board meeting. You feel anxious, so you eat BEFORE the meeting in order to calm down. This may or may not help in the short run. In fact, it can backfire . . . you’ll feel worse if you overdo it.

Other people will REACT TO a stressful event by stuffing down feelings with food during or after the event.

Suppose you go to a party that is awkward or socially uncomfortable for some reason. You might spend your time hanging out by the food at the party.

But if things don’t get better, you leave feeling anxious and lonely, stopping for food on the way home.

These patterns can show up over and over in our lives in response to stress. Fear and anxiety are the biggest triggers to emotional eating. And managing those EMOTIONS is THE most common reason to overeat.

Try these strategies in order to break the pattern:

1. ANTICIPATE what might be an uncomfortable situation, and make a plan to deal with it. If you are worried about a social event you have to attend, you might try bringing a friend, so you will feel more comfortable.

2. PUT DOWN THE COOKIE, AND PICK UP A PEN. WRITE down your biggest fears — spell them out, being as specific as possible. Think about how you might talk to a friend in your situation.

3. REALIZE that you are eating to soothe emotions and learn to manage feelings in other ways. Often just acknowledging and accepting your feelings goes a long way in managing them.

4. ASK yourself — what is the worst thing that can happen? This will often help you gain a different perspective.

5. REACH OUT to a friend or a loved one and tell them how you are feeling. We all have fear and anxiety from time to time. There is NO reason to suffer alone.

6. Most importantly — RESIGN as general manager of the universe 🙂 We are infallible human beings and we can’t control everything.