In response to the messages I’ve received over the last couple weeks…
“Life has gotten stressful and I’m turning to food for comfort again.”
“With everything that’s been going at work and at home, I was bound to gain weight!”
You hear the question, right?
How to stop stress eating?
And this stress eating tool isn’t one you’re used to hearing, like…
Leave the stressful situation and take a walk outside.
Listen to soothing music.
Call a friend.
Take a deep breath and count to 10.
These are lovely, but they’re temporary. You need to keep repeating them over and over again because they don’t address what’s causing you stress in the first place. Your thoughts about a situation, a person or yourself. That’s what gets you upset or anxious, and then you’re stressed. And then, STRESS EATING!
Our goal is to reduce your stress by changing, just a little bit, the way you think about things, then hopefully reduce the stress eating and improve your self-care. So we’re going to keep it simple.
As I begin to explain this tool, I ask you to hold-off on assuming it won’t work for you, or that you’ve heard it before or that it doesn’t make sense. If those thoughts pop up, just acknowledge them and know you can absolutely choose not to practice this tool, but while you’re here – let’s just see what we can do with your stress eating.
Alright, let’s blow your mind!
You don’t have to go to work tomorrow.
You don’t have to pay the electric bill.
You don’t have to buy groceries.
You don’t have to call your daughter back.
You don’t have to spend time with your spouse this weekend.
Don’t you feel less stressed already?
Stay with me. Let’s have a conversation about the electric bill.
Me: You don’t have to pay the electric bill.
You: Yes, I do.
Me: Seriously, you don’t.
You: They’ll shut off my electricity if I don’t pay the bill.
Me: Right. When you don’t pay it, your electricity will be turned off.
You: I can’t be without electricity.
Me: Sure you can. Without electricity you’ll burn candles, put your groceries in an ice chest, towel dry your hair, and use the WiFi at Starbuck’s.
You: I can’t do that.
Me: You CAN’T do that or you don’t WANT to do that?
You: I don’t WANT to do that.
Me: Okay. So you WANT to pay your electric bill.
You: No, I have to.
Me: You HAVE to or you WANT to?
You: Oh! (cue deep breath of understanding) I WANT to pay my electric bill.
You might be thinking, “Oh come on Mary! Is that really enough to reduce stress at work and my stress eating?”
YES! It’s actually enough to reduce stress eating. By moving from I HAVE TO…to…I WANT/CHOOSE TO…You put yourself in a position of power and step away from being a victim of the evil electric company.
Here’s one that came out of a recent coaching session:
“I had to work late all week and on Saturday so I didn’t have any time to exercise.”
Did you hear the I HAD TO? How many times have you said that? The Disempowering Thought behind this statement is, “My horrible employer forced me to work late and then dragged me back in on Saturday, I mean they held my feet to the flames! And they stopped me from exercising! If only they weren’t so horrible I would’ve exercised every day!”
I get to be a little dramatic to make my point.
How about an Empowering Thought! “I chose to work late all week and I chose to go in on Saturday because the project is important to my employer. And my salary, because of what it provides, is very important to me and my family.”
When the client comes from a place of power, “I CHOOSE TO GO,” instead of, “I HAVE TO GO,” it reduces her stress. Otherwise she’d get all caught up in,
“Why did they wait so long on this project?”
“Why didn’t my supervisor cancel her vacation?”
“I can’t believe my coworker decided to get sick now of all times!”
THESE ARE THE THOUGHTS! What you think people should or shouldn’t do that makes you stressed. And when you’re stressed you might decide you don’t have enough energy to workout, or it may lead to stress eating, or you may turn down an invitation from a friend to get together for coffee. None of this is good self-care.
WAIT! What happened to EXERCISE in the Empowering Thought?
Well, it could be true that working a 12-hour shift as opposed to an 8-hour shift only allows time for commuting, eating, showering and sleeping. If that’s the case, she still comes from a place of power and choice in how she spends her time. There’s no blame toward the employer, no guilt toward herself, just fact…it is what it is.
It could also be true, that she could have chosen to take a 15-minute walk during her break. Only the client knows if she had an opportunity to make that choice. But again, she has the power to make the choice. Nothing and no one is forcing her to do anything, including exercise.
I understand this tool of changing a Disempowering Thought to an Empowering Thought may sound too simple to work. But I ask you to give it a try. Still, you’re in the position of power to make the choice to give this tool a try. I hope you do.
It’s about making the choice to have more peace in your life. And seriously, peace feels so good.
More peace = less stress eating.
Love, light and grace to you.