Stress, overwhelm and overload are a perfect recipe for emotional eating and overeating.
This is one reason that so many high achieving women overeat. One of the trickiest things about feeling time-crunched and rushed is that it usually seems like you can’t afford to take any extra time or energy to step back, get a handle on the situation, or figure out how to do it differently.
“I’ll just get through this and start fresh on Monday,” is a typical approach, and in the meantime, the stress eating and other emotional overeating continues to be an ineffective bandaid or coping strategy that usually contributes its own additional stress to the situation (because you don’t feel good about what you are doing).
When you are stressed and overwhelmed, you don’t have a lot of time, so here are some quick tips that I use to feel better, stay focused, and avoid overeating and emotional eating. These are not tips for the long haul—no one can operate with too much to do forever, but using these tips can help you get through a stressful time with minimal overeating and stress eating damage.
How not to overeat when you have too much to do:
- Plan what you are going to eat. It’s basic, but we tend to overlook it don’t we? Working through lunch and being starving at three o’clock when you are under deadline doesn’t cut it (and leads to overeating). Make sure you have meals to eat that are balanced and have protein to help even out your energy.
- Don’t keep everything in your brain. Make sure you have a document somewhere that lists everything you have to do and remember. Dump it there. You’ll be amazed how much energy and stress this saves you.
- Break your to-do list into small items and cross them off as you work through them. You want to create a breadcrumb trail so you can see movement, so you can see where you are going, and so you can see that you are being effective.
- Set mini-goals. Sometimes we have to live fifteen minutes at a time. Know what your focus is for this fifteen minutes of your life. Set a timer and give it your all. If you feel tempted to stress eat, try delaying for fifteen minutes. Set the timer and choose a task to focus on–or take a break.
- If you can’t figure out where to focus or if you can’t maintain a focus either pick any one thing on your priority list or take a fifteen-minute break. By the way, a break doesn’t mean skimming your email or mindless eating. A break means walking away and clearing your mind. I go for a run or go make a cup of tea. You might go outside and breathe, take a short walk, go fold a load of laundry or even do some dishes. Don’t spend your break worrying—remember, it’s a reboot.
- Speaking of walking away, don’t eliminate physical activity when you are stressed. It not only lowers stress and reduces overeating, it gets you out of your head and helps you refocus.
- Have a stopping point each day. Do not let work and emails saturate all the areas of your life. Do not charge your phone in your bedroom if you can help it.
- Don’t sacrifice sleep if there is any way around it. Getting consistent good sleep curbs overeating and emotional eating and will give you energy, focus, and creativity to be more productive with less time.
- Sprinkle in lovely rewards, treats, and indulgences that are not food. Put on music, wear a color that you love, light a candle, use the great lotion that you’ve been saving. Put flowers on your desk and call a friend at the end of the day. Something as simple as savoring your coffee in a comfortable chair instead of drinking it while you are hunched over your computer screen can shift your mood, replenish you, and keep you going.
- Say it out loud and make a commitment. Acknowledge, at least to yourself, “I’m stressed and overwhelmed, but it’s not going to always be this way. I’m going to do my best as I get through this, and that includes taking the best care I can of me.”
- Rinse and repeat these tips until this episode passes, but remember, they aren’t a recommendation for how to live your life long term. Life’s too short to live on a hamster wheel of surviving and not thriving, so if you don’t see an end to this episode, get the help you need to move forward differently in the big picture.
Take good care,