Today at my office, on a very busy day, the power went out. Just like that. No warning. The power company had no idea what went wrong or how long it would be before power was restored. And so here I sat. No computer. No phone. No fax or copier. I couldn’t even use the shredder to finish off the pile of trash beside my desk. And I had so much to do.
Eventually, after several false starts (turns out it’s hard to file papers while holding a flashlight), I just stopped. I stopped and I sat in my chair by the window, and eventually I picked up a pile of paperwork I could do by hand and started slowly working on that. What I became very aware of was how soothing it was to slow down–to only be doing and thinking about one thing at a time—and how difficult it really is to slow down when we’re feeling stressed and trying to do too much. I hadn’t really been aware of how many tasks were on my mind and on my mental to-do list until I was literally forced to drastically limit my activity.
Stopping when we are overwhelmed–taking that literal deep breath and just pausing for a moment or two to regroup and to make a conscious decision about what to do next–can make all the difference in the world. And yet, when we are stressed, our brains, our adrenaline levels, our to-do lists, all seem to urge us to keep moving and keep working. Many emotional eaters use food to help them shut out the feelings and help them keep going—through stress, or anxiety, or exhaustion. Sometimes it doesn’t even occur to us to pause or take a break.
Do you recognize this pattern as your own? When in your life could you be more skilled at “stopping?” What are the consequences if you don’t? What one thing could you set into place or post on your refrigerator, or start doing that would help you remember to take a pause and take a breath and make a conscious decision about how to manage your stress. What could you do to help you pause and deliberately consider whether eating because you are stressed is what you really want to do?
Post your comments and ideas below and let me know how they work.
Take good care,