Today I want to give you a few tools to help you cope with stress and anxiety in your day-to-day. Because if you can start dealing with this stuff early on in the day, you’ll be likely to have the weight of the world on your shoulders later at night. And if you don’t have the weight on the world on your shoulders at night, you’ll be less likely to need to numb out with food.
1. Name the emotion when you’re feeling it.
It sounds a little wacky, but when you’re going about your day and you feel the tension in your body, your heart rate rising, the lump growing in the back of your throat, literally say the emotion out loud. It might be helpful for you to write a note in your phone to keep track how you’re feeling, when and how it’s showing up in your body. When you’re clear on how you’re feeling (try to get a little deeper than stressed- what’s causing the stress? What are your fears?) and how that feeling is manifesting physically, you can begin to do the work to soothe it.
2. Your breath.
You have one of the most powerful tools to move from a stressed and chaotic state to a more calm and relaxed state with you at all times.
Most of us walk around taking quick shallow breaths. And, when we’re stressed we even hold our breath. Pay attention the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed. Are you breathing rapidly? Even holding your breath?
Breathing, deep belly breathing, activates our parasympathetic nervous systems. That’s the system that tells our mind and our bodies that we’re safe and that we can relax. Taking 10 deep square breaths (in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, out for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4) can help you move from completely overwhelmed to a place where you acknowledge why you’re stressed and then move to address the feelings that come along with it.
3. Communicate your needs.
Take a minute to consider how many times you just grin-and-bear-it because you feel like you have to. How could things change if you respectfully, kindly and calmly, asked people in your world for what you need. Often out stress levels are exponentially increased because of the resentment we’re feeling toward people around us. Typically because we’re feeling a certain type of way that they’re not leveling up to our expectations- even when our expectations are unspoken.
Instead, consider a safe person to communicate your needs to. Maybe it’s your next door cubicle mate who’s always stealing your pens. Maybe it’s your boss who’s treating you like crap. Maybe it’s your partner who keeps forgetting to put the dishes in the dishwasher. Regardless of what it is, communicating your needs allows people in your life to meet those needs. Which then lessens the pressure on your shoulders.
4. Shift you energy to create a feeling that you’d like to feel.
While we’re at work we don’t necessarily have the time and a safe space to lean back and feel and experience all of the feels. Instead, acknowledge how you’re feeling. Take those deep breaths and actively do something to move that energy. Repeat your favorite mantra, turn on a song that get’s you all riled up, watch your favorite clip of impractical jokers. Sometimes a shift in energy is all we need to move the stress
5. Offer yourself kindness and compassion.
I’d venture to say that when you’re feeling all of the things, you’re often judging yourself for feeling all of the things. Instead of beating yourself up for feeling stressed, worried and overwhelmed, pause and acknowledge that it’s just a feeling. Offer yourself the kindness and compassion you would to a friend or a loved one. Remember, beating yourself up when you’re feeling like shit, will only lead you to feeling shittier.
Using the 5 tools throughout your days will help you begin to manage and lessen the heap of stress you’re facing each day. But, we can also take it a step further, by brainstorming tools specific TO YOU that will help you move through moments or times of distress.
To do that, I’ve made a worksheet for you to fill out and start implementing as much as possible. This is particularly helpful for those times where you knowingly approach the refrigerator or cabinets thinking YOLO!
In those moments, I’d encourage you to use the strategies from the worksheet to pause in effort to de-escalate, cope with the feelings leading you to say, EFF IT! and consider what else you can do to achieve the feeling you actually want to feel.
It will absolutely help you expand your tool box to cope with those tough emotions you’ve been numbing and checking out from with food.
Questions? Want to share your worksheet? Click here to shoot me an email! I'd love to see what you came up with or help you brainstorm.
I'm a therapist in Horsham, PA specializing in body image and binge eating.
I treat teens and adults struggling with eating disorders, anxiety and their relationship with their body. I'm also an intuitive eating counselor and offer body image and intuitive eating coaching online.
I'm passionate about helping people realize and stand in their personal power to achieve lasting mind, body and food healing.