Manage Your Stress And You’ll Learn To Manage Food
For many, eating is a go-to activity that fills in the gaps when we’re bored, in need of comfort, or transitioning from one part of our day to the next. As children, much-awaited after-school snacking preceded, and stalled, the need to tackle stressful homework and as adults, midnight (or all night) munching is practically an unconscious activity.
Food as a friend?
Food, for many, is a much-relied upon companion, always there to calm us when we’re stressed and used to relieve depression. Of course, the effects of eating wear off quickly, leaving us even more anxious and many pounds heavier. Stress is a part of life, whether we like it or not, but trying to use food as an anxiety reducer tends to make us feel worse and even more out of control. Before you reach for that next cookie, ask yourself, is there a better way?
Overeating hurts, not helps
According to the Mayo Clinic, stress is ever-present in modern life and the need to turn it off is integral to health, overall quality of life and even, our relationships with others. Positive stress management tools help to eliminate the deleterious effects of both long and short-term anxiety, but food, when used as a stress buster, does not work. Overeating only makes the situation worse, doing nothing to reduce the fight-or-flight hormones released during anxious moments and making us less healthy in the long run. The Mayo Clinic recommends several steps which can help to break the cycle. These include:
Monitor your anxiety –Start to identify how your body and brain react to stressful situations. For some, it is sweaty palms. For others, a racing heartbeat, or a cluster of many symptoms which tell them that they are feeling anxious.
Learn to identify your triggers – Many things cause stress, including situations or even thoughts.
Acknowledge your triggers without judgement – Stress can be caused by positive changes, too. This is natural and understandable. Accept how you feel and allow yourself to know that it is ok to feel that way. Noticing what triggers you will also help you to avoid certain situations or to act differently during unavoidable situations.
Seek out help and support – Know that you don’t have to go it alone. Call a friend, talk to clergy or get involved in a group activity. Anyway you reach out for support and bring people into your life is good.
Get physical – The endorphins released during physical activity combat the fight-or-flight hormones released during anxiety. Even a brisk walk will do the trick. Stuck in the house or at your desk? Try using small movements, such as arm or neck rolls. These too can also help.
Try meditation or other relaxation techniques – Yoga, deep breathing and mindful meditation are all powerful relaxation tools but so is hanging out with your dog or cat. Relaxation can take the form of many things, including knitting, working a puzzle, reading a book or talking to a pal, either four or two-legged. Folding enjoyment into your day is a great anxiety reducer.
Eat well and sleep well – Healthy habits help. It’s as simple as that. Eating well gives you a sense of control and less to worry about. Sleeping well provides you with the strength to tackle your day.
Stress relief may not come easily easy right away, but is mostly dependent upon the acquisition of healthy habits, which occurs over time. Making small changes you can stick to will eventually help reduce your stress and make it much more manageable.