5 Self-Care Ideas to Get You Through Those Most Stressful of Days.

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Do you turn to food when you feel stressed and overwhelmed?

Many professional women I speak to feel resentful with their busy schedule and eat in response to stress.

Emotional eating, including stress eating, skyrockets when you feel that there is no time for you in your busy day.

The problem is that eating in response to your emotions leads to consumption of excessive calories which typically leads to weight gain. 

If you can’t stop turning to food for comfort when you feel stressed – it’s likely a sign that you need some self-care to get you through those most stressful of days.

Stress and Emotional Eating.

Emotional eating is eating as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness.

A recent study found that eating dysregulation mediated the association between stress and emotional eating. Experience of stress was related to individuals’ poorer capability of being responsive to their internal signals of hunger and satiety, which in turn, was related to higher emotional eating. 

Below are some quotes from my clients about stress and emotional eating:

‘I eat to destress and feel comfort mostly. I have to ask, am I stressed or hungry, more times than not it is stressed.”

“I know I eat when I’m bored, lonely, stressed, etc. “

“Food is a reward when things are overly stressful.” 

“40 years in September I will have battled with my eating. Food is the love of my life. There when I’m sad, upset, stressed, scared, even happy. Stress anxiety and panic attacks cause me to eat sugary carb loaded foods which then stops me from losing weight and upsets me and then the anxiety starts again it’s a vicious cycle”

Stress and Menopause.

Stress affects all systems of the body including the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems.
As menopause approaches, hormone levels fluctuate rapidly. These changes are associated with anxiety, mood swings, and feelings of distress. 

Excess stress increases the likelihood of developing depression and anxiety during this time. 

Furthermore, emotional distress may cause false hunger signals to be worse and women who are more anxious may experience an increased number of hot flashes and/or more severe or intense hot flashes.

What is Self-Care? 

Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately and it’s an essential life skill that’s intimately connected to our mental, emotional, and physical health. 

It goes beyond eating healthy and exercising. Self-care is defined as a way of living that incorporates behaviours that enable you to maintain health and balance, replenish energy and motivation.

Ultimately, self-care is about understanding that your body is the one place on the planet that you have dominion over.

Although self-care a simple concept in theory, overcoming barriers to self-care is difficult, especially for busy women and tends to be the first thing to go when life gets busy (it’s all too easy to cross yourself off your priority list entirely).

Self-awareness is your ability to recognize, understand and know when to slow down or stop.

Here are five self-care ideas to get you through those most stressful of days so that you feel calm, show up more vibrant, energized, and productive

#1 – Take a Breather.

When you feel stressed you are likely taking in short, shallow breaths and feeling your muscles tighten. This can make you feel anxious and zap your energy. 

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you

Combat stressful shallow breathing by stopping to take a breather.

Here’s some tips for Deep Breathing:

-Sit in a chair with your shoulders, head, and neck supported against the back of the chair.

-Breathe in through your nose. Let your belly fill with air.

-Breathe out through your nose.

-Place one hand on your belly. Place the other hand on your chest.

-As you breathe in, feel your belly rise. As you breathe out, feel your belly lower. The hand on your belly should move more than the one that’s on your chest.

-Take three more full, deep breaths. Breathe fully into your belly as it rises and falls with your breath.

#2 – Stretch to Relieve Stress.

Stress builds up and creates physical and mental stiffness. Stretching is an effective strategy to aid in the relief of stress. It lengthens the muscles to relieve tension.

Stretching can be done almost anywhere and here are some quick ways to relax your body and spirit:

Here’s some tips for an Upper Back Stretch:

-Stand with your knees slightly bent or sit up straight.

-Clasp your hands in front of you, arms parallel to floor.

-Keep your head relaxed.

-Round your upper back. Push hands forward, palms away from body.

-Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, breathing steadily. Repeat 2-5 times.

Here’s some tips for a Neck Stretch:

-Stand with your knees slightly bent or sit up straight.

-Drop chin to your chest. 

-Place hands on back of head. Gently push down until you feel slight stretch. 

-Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, breathing steadily. Repeat 2-5 times.

#3 – Evaluate your Priorities. 

If you’re the type of person that tends to take on too much and try to do everything in one day, you may be spreading yourself too thin and creating unnecessary stress for yourself.

Be enough for yourself first, the rest of the world can wait.

Here are some tips to help you identify your priorities:

-Evaluate what’s on your to do list for the day by asking yourself “What is most important to you? “

-Consider doing less: Try to leave yourself some down time to relax and replenish during the day.  

-Then identify 1 to 2 most important tasks that you need to finish today by asking yourself “Will this task contribute to or detract from your overall well-being? Are the benefits worth the potential stress?”

-Give yourself permission to carry the other tasks over into tomorrow or another day.

-In future plan your daily tasks following the above formula.

#4 – Set Healthy Boundaries.

Do you often find yourself saying yes when you’d like to say no?

Not being able to say no can become a major source of unnecessary stress. 

Most people wish to please others, but saying yes too often tends to lead someone to becoming overwhelmed with unwanted responsibilities. 

Here are some tips for setting healthy boundaries:

-Don’t say yes to things you don’t want to do. 

-Yes, it can be tough to say “no” to others, or to limit yourself from doing everything, even if you know it might be better for you in the long run.  

-Rather than automatically saying “yes” to new responsibilities, consider changing your default response to, “Let me think about it” or “I’ll get back to you” to buy yourself some time to consider the impact of the decision.

Self-care means giving yourself permission to pause.

 #5 – Identify your Hunger.

When we constantly feel hungry and overeat, sometimes it’s not about the food. It’s about how you use food to self-soothe; numb yourself against the stress of living.

After all, we are all hungering for something…

What are you hungry for?

-You may be hungry for balance.

-You may be hungry to do something other than work.

-You may be hungry for “self-nourishment” 

Taking care of yourself will help maintain your physical, emotional, and mental reserves to prevent and manage stress.  

Lastly make time for fun and leisure, especially when you’re stressed. Choose activities that will help you unwind, have fun, and refuel.

You deserve to relax and let loose

Now it’s over to you…

— What strategies get you through those most stressful of days?

Irena Geller

Irena Geller is a Sydney-based health & wellness coach specialising in the 🍓food and 😃 mood connection. She loves helping professional women to find the motivation and energy to eat healthily and exercise regularly and be consistent with these habits.

Have you tried every diet you can think of and lost confidence in yourself that you can be successful?

If you’re ready to finally lose weight and feel more confident. Book a good-fit coaching session with me to see if we can work together.

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