It’s late. You’re still in the office. But it’s that difficult client, and you have to finish this task before you can even think about leaving. Suddenly you remember that man-sized chocolate languishing in the back of your desk drawer. And it’s calling, no, it is shouting your name.
Or perhaps you’ve fallen into the habit of reaching for the bottle of red wine at the end of the day. It helps you to relax, and you sleep better when you’ve had a drink. Or two. Or even three.
Sound familiar? It should – many of us ‘self-medicate’ when stressed, and often, our ‘drugs’ of choice are food or alcohol.
But stress eating (or drinking) can have the opposite effect of what we hope for and deplete our energy levels – instead we should be choosing our foods carefully and using them to make us more resilient, more able to cope with the stresses that come our way.
So what is a chocolate or vino junkie to do? The first step is not necessarily to forcefully stop the behaviour but being aware of it in the first place. It helps to acknowledge the feeling or emotion that drives you to grab the Mars bar or the bottle opener. Then try to relax, take a few deep breaths, perhaps even close your eyes as you think about what the source was and why you are now feeling like you need to react by eating something. Becoming present in the moment will perhaps help you to a) choose an alternative action such as getting some fresh air or b) having less of the ‘bad’stuff because you savour it more. Either way, self awareness and understanding is what drives our behaviours around eating and drinking is part of our journey to abundant health and wellness.