“Emotions are similar to the ocean waves, coming and going in perfect harmony. We can’t ever stop them from surfacing, but we can choose which ones to surf for emotional balance.”
Emotional balance and regulation are HARD. Especially if we’re not used to practicing proper skills to manage them during times of crisis.
Think about how many times we’ve binged due to our feelings of inadequacy, loneliness or sadness. I would say quite a bit, especially for those of us who struggle with using food for comfort and companionship. Don’t we often use food as a way to celebrate, mourn a loss or use for comfort, don’t we? When we lose a loved one, what happens? People bring us food right? When we feel sad and alone, we’ll go into the pantry for chocolate, yes? Or, if we’re feeling angry, we crave crunch so we dive right into those chips on the kitchen counter, don’t we? You bet.
FOOD IS USED FOR MORE THAN JUST FUEL. WE USE IT FOR OUR EMOTIONS TOO.
I often get asked, “How can I stop a binge or find a way to quit eating when I’m bored?” Before I dive into tips to help offset binges, food obsession and more, I want to touch on emotions because those are often the catalyst which triggers our behaviors in the first place.
It’s important to remember, emotions are neither good nor bad, right or wrong, EMOTIONS JUST ARE. They exist and it’s never helpful to go off on a tangent and judge them.
Do you ever say, “Ugh, why am I feeling this way? I just need to get it together and stop thinking this!” What does that do? Nothing positive, that’s for sure. Judging our emotions only creates a spiral of deeper depression and frustration, so why not throw yourself a bone and have some self-compassion?
Here’s the thing, there’s a clear-cut difference between having an emotion and acting on our emotion or doing something in response to our emotion.
EMOTIONS DON’T LAST FOREVER.
No matter what we’re feeling, eventually, the feelings lift and our brain will move on to the next one. No emotion stays stuck with us forever.
Feeling sad? Totally okay! Instead of avoiding the feelings of sadness, feel them, allow yourself to work through them and I promise you will be okay. When we avoid is where we often get ourselves into trouble.
A quote I remember Brene Brown stating was quite profound to me. She said, “We cannot feel joy without feeling sadness. We cannot pick and choose which emotions we want to feel, we must feel all of them to feel an array of them.”
How true is that? How badly do we only want to feel happy often forcing ourselves to always be “on” and excited about any and everything? We put on our guy smiley face and go into the world constantly acting as if we have it all together 24/7. How lonely is that? VERY.
Honestly, all we need to do is when a strong emotion surfaces, we do NOT have to act on those feelings. All we need to do is see the emotion for what it is, habitually looking at the emotion from a 3rd party point of view.
EMOTIONS ARE NOT FACTS.
When our emotions are heightened, of course they feel like the “truth” because they feel so real, especially when we’ve held onto them for so long and convinced ourselves they are in fact, a fact.
So, how can we prevent a binge from happening in advance? There are a few tools which I find very effective for mindless eating and binging. They take practice and patience and THEY WORK. You just have to give them a try and keep doing them until they begin to become second nature to you.
- “Opposite Action”. Let’s say you’re super pissed off at someone for hurting your feelings or causing you to feel deeply upset about something. Normally, when you’re feeling angry and pissed, you’ll often resort to cake and cookies to fill the void and numb out the feelings. That’s the action step you choose to act on when your emotions are heightened. Now, instead of running to the kitchen for the normal cake and cookies, try something else. I know you’re mad and all you want to do is eat that stuff, but you and I both know you often feel like crap afterward right? What if you chose the #opposite action instead? Maybe you don’t run home because you know what actions that will lead to. Maybe you drive somewhere else instead or you go for a walk in the park, rather than acting on that emotion like you always have. When we continue to act by taking the #opposite action approach, we begin to build that layer of inner confidence. We can see that yes, we can do other things and take other action steps to help us feel better, we don’t have to act on a negative behavior to fulfill our emotional state.
- “Positive Proof”. Or, in other words, increasing our positive emotions while learning to reduce more fragile states of being. How can we do this? I like to use my acronym PLANS which stands for the following:
Allowing ourselves to say “no”
Think about it, aren’t we more fragile to our emotions when we’re tired, rundown and not eating enough? I know I am! That’s why I’m huge on self-care and making sure we get our own needs met every day to handle life and our ever-flowing emotions. The terms above are pretty self-explanatory but it goes to show how we need to integrate these into our daily routine to prevent a weakened and more vulnerable mindset.
When we have our PLANS skills in place, we’re taking care of our body and mind. Yes, I talk a lot about fitness and food but I truly believe mindset is important, if not more important than exercise and food topics alone.
Let’s discuss PLANS a little deeper.
Physical exercise: of course movement is important and I doubt you would be reading my blog if you thought otherwise. I think we need to be moving daily, not this once a month thing for mental and physical benefits.
Self-Care: this one is HUGE! I think as women we overlook this a million times over and we’re more likely to help everyone else before we even begin to think about ourselves. We need to care for ourselves daily and I see it all the time, women so burned out from taking on too much and doing way too much and taxing their adrenals and nervous system. Take a breather, go for a walk, take some deep breaths, get a massage and be out in nature. Whatever self-care looks like to you, honor it and do not neglect it, it’s vital for our overall health and well-being.
Allowing ourselves to say “no.”: so hard right? Especially when we’re not used to doing so. Maybe we feel bad saying no to a friend or maybe we feel guilty if we opt out of an event because we’re afraid of what others will think about us. But, let’s look on the flip side, who wants to build resentment and animosity towards someone for choosing to say yes? If you have a really hard time saying, “no” start small. Maybe you say no to your coffee barista or you opt out of a simple social event to help build your “no” resume. Over time, saying no becomes so much easier and we’re less likely to hold grudges or feel pissy because we said yes to something we had zero desire doing.
Nutritional foods: this is a given and we hear this all the time but you know I’m going to say it. 🙂 I mean, who doesn’t feel better when we have quality foods in our bellies? We feel more energetic, vibrant and alive, don’t we? Instead of viewing food as a weight loss only tactic, think of food as a way to provide energy and excitement to our lives. I hear people say all the time that eating healthy is too hard. I call B.S. We can absolutely eat healthily and make it enjoyable all at the same time. We don’t have to live off dried fish and asparagus to “eat well.” We can add fresh herbs, colorful veggies, chicken stock, spices and so much more to yummy and high-quality foods. Just think of all the benefits these foods offer us?
Sleep: ahhhh yes, the necessity and the poor moms that get little to none, I feel for you! We all know how important sleep is for our mood, appetite, weight and emotional stability. I mean, who isn’t crabby when they’re exhausted? Who doesn’t want to eat sugar and carbs when they’re sleep deprived? Please try your hardest to aim for 6-8 hours of sleep a night. 6 is being nice, that’s the least amount you need to be realz. Aim for 8 and you will be amazed how much better you feel after a good night’s rest. Finding a way to decompress and chill after dinner is highly important, maybe this looks like walking away from the TV an hour before bed. Maybe this is a good time for you to force yourself to keep the computer or laptop in your office or downstairs rather in the bed with you. Regardless, finding a healthy and sustainable night time routine is going to be of upmost importance for a quality nights rest. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.
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