Stressful times require intentional, thoughtful responses.
Especially now that we’re entering the 9th month of Covid-19 pandemic exhaustion.
Extreme social distancing, masking, working from home, learning from home, eating meal after meal at home.
So many of us hardly ever leave home except for a daily dose of fresh air. Or the occasional food or bank run. Or a carefully orchestrated outdoor activity. Or a socially distanced rendezvous with family or friends. Or for those infrequent, long neglected hair coloring or mani-pedi appointments.
Taking calculated risks has pushed our brains into high alert status almost daily.
And now, with colder weather upon us and the results of school and establishment reopenings sky-rocketing new Covid cases worldwide, a return to more stringent lock down restrictions seems inevitable. In some locales, it’s already begun.
OMG, the new normal: The fear of getting Covid. Wondering if you do whether you’ll be the one to survive or succumb. Fearing for our elders, our children, our friends and colleagues. Fearing for the world. Fearing for our sanity. Wondering how much longer we can hold onto some sense of normalcy without going crazy!
Our brains react to stress by choosing the easy way.
Our ancestral brain was designed to keep us safe and alive so we’re ready, willing and able to procreate. Our brain still operates by that survival imperative today.
One of the primary ways our brain does that is to conserve energy. Our brain is not designed to make decisions 24/7. That would require too great an expenditure of the energy needed to fight for survival. So it readily turns to those well-grooved habits that drive easy, predictable behaviors. Left to its own devices, the brain prefers the path of least resistance.
And when that includes a strong urge for all the comfort foods we’re used to eating in times of emotional stress, it’s so easy to slip into “I deserve it!” territory.
I know, when you’re feeling its all to much, all you want to do is rest your over-active brain and go on auto-pilot. You crave a well-deserved break from all that emotional intensity. It would be so much easier if you could blot out all those frustrating, uncomfortable feelings clamoring for attention.
Of course that hot, gooey, cheesy pizza topped with pepperoni, a glass of pinot noir and chocolate truffles for dessert sound like the perfect fix for a psychologically overwhelming day.
Instead, let’s interrupt that faulty “I deserve it!” thinking right now, shall we?
Call a time out on those demanding, impulsive urges to eat whatever wounds most appealing at the moment.
Let’s revise our premise that feeling discomfort requires food to quell the intensity of rampaging emotions.
Let’s take a moment to to acknowledge that discomfort is just part of the human condition. Which discomfort do you want to manage? Discomfort now or discomfort later?
What to do when that all too familiar “I deserve it!” refrain arises.
First, it’s important to catch the thought as it’s occurring. Excellent! Now let’s agree to allow it to accompany us through the day but not control our decisions and choices. Let’s plan those intentionally.
Second, check in with your your uncomfortable feelings and identify them as precisely as you can. Allow your stress, anxiety or fear to be present. Don’t try to ignore or resist it. Welcome it in as a natural part of the human experience . Acknowledge it’s message and it’s purpose. Allow the ebb and flow of the vibrations in your body.
What you resist persists so don’t be in any hurry to unload your uncomfortable feelings. Allow them to rise and subside like an ocean wave.
Third, exercise self-compassion. Remind your brain that you know it’s just trying to take the path of least resistance because you’ve spent decades training it to chose the easy way out when it comes to food and alcohol. Remind yourself that you, with the power of your discerning prefrontal cortex, are at the wheel today. And that today, you’re allowing urges and uncomfortable feelings to train your brain that feeling those emotions does not constitute an emergency. That your life isn’t threatened and that food or alcohol is only a practiced response to uncomfortable feelings but not a necessary one.
Allow a kind inner voice to comfort you.
Fourth, ask yourself this question: “If food or alcohol aren’t the answers to my discomfort, what else could I chose to bring me comfort instead?”
Fifth, check your list of all the things you can or are willing to do to bring comfort to yourself. If you don’t know what might soothe your angst, take time now to brainstorm a list. Return to your list in times of stress when cravings call.
Sixth, practice gratitude and appreciation for all that is going well in your world. Research abounds that confirms that an attitude of gratitude is good medicine for all that ails us. In these fraught days, appreciating even the smallest event or aspect in life, even your ability to open your eyes to a new day, is worth celebrating. Make a list of at least 10 things you appreciate that are not food related.
I’m here to help you map an easier route to weight loss.
I have a useful array of tools to help you deal with “I deserve it!” thinking or any of its cousins that accelerate urges and desires for comfort foods and alcohol.
Let’s talk about what you can do to avoid weight loss potholes like this.
And let’s think more about how much you REALLY deserve to live in peace and freedom with food, your body and your weight.
Contact me right here so I can help you figure it out once and for all.
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