If you give a normal person a list of five things to do, they will get started with the first thing on their list. If you give a stress eater a list with five things to do, they will get started by running to the refrigerator. Eating becomes a way to deal with procrastination, fatigue, and powerlessness. After all, a big part of stress is really just a belief that you are completely powerless over a situation. Eating is the immediate response to the stressor. It’s the thing that stress eaters go to when they feel powerless over the stress. So, how to stop stress eating?
In 12 step groups, the serenity prayer says:
grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
- Stop! Think about the source of your stress. Is this something that you can control?
- Figure out what you can control.
- If there is nothing that you can do about the situation, you might simply have to accept it and all the consequences that come with it.
- Deal with the consequences of accepting that you cannot change the situation at hand and take care of yourself around that
- Are you stressing about something that hasn’t happened yet? Stop. Don’t live in the future or in the past. All that exists is the moment. Make the best choice that you can for the given moment.
Here is a list of 50 things that you can do when you’re stressed instead of eating:
(this list won’t have you running to the fridge)
1.)Organize yourself, figure out exactly what to do and execute a strategy for getting things done. If you are not good at this, ask a friend who is good at this stuff to help you.
2.)Take a bath
3.)Go for a walk
4.)Go to the gym
7.)Call a friend and talk out what is going on with you.
8.)Write in your journal/blog
9.)Stretch or do yoga
10.)Zone out and watch a movie that you like
11.)Curl up with a good book
12.)Take your dog for a walk, or pet your cat if you have one
13.)Clean your house
14.)Do some volunteer work– get out of your head by helping some other people out. Serve food at a soup kitchen, volunteer to play with kids at a homeless shelter, walk dogs or play with cats at the local animal shelter.
15.)Buy a meal for a homeless person in your neighborhood and bring it to them
16.)Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time
17.)Call a much older relative or friend. The advice of people older than you with so much more life experience can be incredibly valuable.
18.)Listen to music that you can lose yourself in
19.)Get out of your apartment or house and be out in the world with people, don’t isolate
20.)Draw, paint, do something artistic
21.)Walk around the block then attack your to do list.
22.)Promise yourself a non-food reward for every thing you cross off your list, such as 10 minutes to zone out on the internet.
23.)Get a massage
24.)Take a shower
25.)Water your plants
26.)Find something to break, like sticks or branches you find outdoors.Rip up an old tee-shirt. Anything that can feel cathartic and release some tension. Just don’t hurt anyone.
27.)Relax your jaw. Your jaw is the strongest muscle in your body and because of that, you hold a lot of stress in it. Massage your jaw muscles and try to relax them.
29.)Scream into a pillow
31.)Go to a spin class, kickboxing class, or to the boxing gym– something that exerts energy
32.)Go for a drive through a neighborhood that you like
33.)Go out to a movie
35.)Color hard with crayons– releases stress
37.)Go to the beach and look at the ocean
38.)Think about people you love, call them, tell them your woes or don’t tell them your woes, just connecting can be healing
39.)Paint your toenails
41.)Play a musical instrument
43.)Write or read affirmations.
44.)Give yourself a foot massage
45.)Go for a good run!
46.)Write kind notes or emails to people for no reason
47.)Walk outside and smile at 10 strangers
48.)Write a letter to your higher self or your higher power or the Universe…
49.)Slowly inhale to the count of 5 then exhale to the count of 5. Do this for 5 minutes.
50.)Let it go.
Coming up Next— how to deal with the things that you actually CAN change, but somehow can’t find the will to.