‘Tis the season for a little extra weight gain, am I right? It’s no surprise that this time of year brings around the greatest stress for most Americans, and when you combine that with all of the cookies, pies, candies, and other goodies that are everywhere you look… it’s the perfect set up for stress eating.
You see, I know this first hand. If stress eating were an Olympic sport, I could easily swing the gold. The problem is, stress eating doesn’t actually impact stress. At all. It actually makes it worse, because weight gain in itself is a stressor.
What we need to do is find ways to de-stress without using food.
Try Relaxing Activities & Movement
Getting your body moving when you are dealing with high levels of stress is always a great place to start. This is not a “more is better” kind of thing though; try some gentle pilates or yoga, or even something as simple as a walk outside in nature. Intense exercise certainly has its benefits, but it also stresses your body. So when you’re stressed out, try something more relaxing and see if that helps you feel better!
Take Time to Write in a Journal
Journaling is another great way to relieve stress during the holiday season. This helps not only with getting your thoughts, worries, and fears out on paper, but it also provides clarity and allows your to solve problems. Writing in a journal is an amazingly therapeutic tool that helps you to see where your stress is coming from. It’s gained a lot of popularity over the last few years for this very reason, and can really help you figure out how to de-stress without using food (or even why you’re going toward food in the first place)!
Utilize Mindfulness and Meditation
When those stressed out moments of food cravings arrive, it also helps to take a few minutes to meditate and practice mindfulness before making a choice to eat. Mindfulness and meditation are proven to reduce stress and help with emotional eating. Meditation can help get you into a different mindset, where you are more calm and less dependent on food to ease your worries. Mindfulness helps to make you aware of what you’re feeling, along with the decisions you’re making, provided you’re consistent with it. Both can be extremely helpful when learning to de-stress without using food.
The biggest part of learning to not use food to calm down is to make sure you are getting enough time to yourself! Relieving stress requires that you take time away from other responsibilities. It can be as simple as going for a walk, spending quality time with someone, or just taking a hot bath in the evening before bed to relax.
It’s not easy to suddenly learn how to de-stress without using food, especially if you’ve been using food as a coping mechanism for years or decades. However, with the right tools and determination, it’s something that can be changed. And before you know it, you’ll be looking forward to the holidays and not letting anything get to you!
Do you find yourself reaching for food to reduce stress?