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As I mentioned in my last post, stress eating is a result of one of two things.

1.) You have no control over the outcome of something, such as  getting laid off or dealing with someone else’s reaction to something you said or did.

2.)You do have control over something, such as paying your bills or cleaning your house, but you can’t seem to get yourself to do it.

In the last post, I discussed ways to soothe yourself as you accept the things you cannot change. Now, let’s discuss how to actually get the things done that you can control.

To procrastinate is to delay important tasks to an unspecified future time. Often, people will replace the task at hand with something that gives instant gratification such as snacking or drinking or watching tv, surfing the net or doing something else that isn’t particularly necessary and can even be harmful in the case of compulsive behaviors such as spending, binge eating or drinking.

Procrastination usually results in guilt, stress and in some extreme cases, the behavior that replaces the task at hand (the procrastination behavior- what you do instead of studying/paying bills/cleaning/exercising etc.) can cause a crisis or an addiction.  Because procrastination perpetuates itself, it can cause guilt, shame, and isolation as some people might feel bad for not being able to complete the tasks that they were supposed to in a reasonable amount of time. These feelings can cause further procrastination as the person avoids what they need to do and they anxiety around it and redirects their energy into preparing food and eating it.

If you are already prone to binge eating, procrastination can be catnip for your behavior.

How to Stop Procrastinating and Beat Stress Eating

1.) Keep it Simple. This is not a black and white situation. You don’t have to complete this task perfectly. Sometimes people put off a task because it seems just so big and overwhelming.This is about progress, not perfection. Do the best you can.

2.) Take fifteen minute blocks. If you have something to do, set a timer for 15 minutes and just work on it for that long. After 15 minutes, reward yourself with a non-food activity, such as checking your email or facebook page. Give yourself a five minute reward, then get back to the task.

3.) Break it down into smaller bite sized pieces. Rather than cleaning out your whole closet, take just one corner of your closet and clean that section. Each day, take some time to clean out another small section. In a few days, it will all be done. Just do one small section, take no longer than 20-30 minutes each day if you’re trying to organize something. Eventually, it will be complete.

4.) Make a list of what exactly needs to be done. Think about which thing is the easiest. Begin to do the easiest things first, get that all out of the way. When you do, you will find that as you cross things off the list, you are feeling more confident and things are getting done and you are feeling more energized and confident about finishing your projects.

5.) Get a buddy. Talk to someone else who is a procrastinator and see if the two of you can plan to do things together. For example, you might meet at a coffee shop while you do your taxes and your friend works on her dissertation. You might get headphones and chat on the phone together as you clean your closets. If there is a particularly grueling task that you’ve been putting off, you might do them together, such as have a date to go to the DMV and then have tea afterwards.

6.) When you feel the urge to get up and go to the kitchen, set your timer for 20 minutes. Tell yourself that you’re just going to work on your task for 20 minutes, after that, you can go to the kitchen if you want. Hopefully this will offset the compulsive behavior and you will find that you are able to get absorbed in what you are doing.

7.) Remind yourself why you are doing the task and think about how you will feel when the task is done. Think about how you will feel if you put off the task by using food. Reminding yourself of consequences is a good way to keep yourself honest. Really think about the consequences of putting off the task by using food.

8.) Get away from a place that has your procrastination mistress, for example, don’t spend time in the kitchen. If you’re needing to do bills or taxes or work on homework or a paper or studying, get out of your house and go to the library.

9.) Bookend the task. Call someone before you start and tell them your intention. Tell them how long you expect the task to take you, tell them exactly what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it, tell them that you’re not going to use food to procrastinate. Give them an approximate time as to when you will be done with the task and call them to let them know you’ve completed it.

10.) Give the task less power and yourself more. You are stronger than the urge to procrastinate. You are smarter and more able than the task. You can get this done. You have everything inside of you that you need to do this. So, just go ahead and do it.

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Most recent quote from community member: "Unbelievable progress. I had a slice of cake, wasn't that fussed about it and moved on. Cake is just cake! I never thought I'd get to this place. I keep thinking back to an earlier meditation when all the negative energy left down through my feet. That was really powerful. I'm planning to play it again. I've also drawn up a weekly meal plan of healthy balanced meals. This just helps to give me a bit of guidance and planning and eliminates any need for impulsive decisions when I often feel stressed after work. Amazing, thank you so much. I always hoped for hope, but n ow I feel like I'm living hope! I'm so grateful Leora. Thank you."
  • A really detailed and useful post which gives some good ideas about coping with stress. Thanks for posting.

  • Michelle

    Great blog! Thanks!

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