Stress eating is a common problem with emotional eaters. Maybe it’s been one thing after another at work, you’ve been working long hours, or everything seems to be going wrong. This chronic stress can leave you feeling depleted of all energy, overwhelmed, annoyed and on edge. It’s likely that in this scenario, an emotional eater is going to comfort themselves with food. Because when you’re stressed out, you crave comfort. And for most people, that means a bag of chips, chocolate, pasta or pizza.
Unfortunately, stress eating and eating for comfort can lead to out-of-control binges because we’re in an emotional state and not eating mindfully. When we repeatedly stress eat – due to all the chronic stress in our lives – this can lead to binge eating disorder, weight gain and yo-yo dieting.
To manage stress eating, we need to realize what is the root cause of this behaviour. It’s not the food itself, but the stress! Beyond stress eating, there’s a multitude of reasons why we should try and manage our stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can cause anxiety, depression, and insomnia, as well as lead to changes to our eating behaviour such as overeating.
If you are looking for ways to manage emotional and stress eating, I’d encourage you to take steps to try and reduce your stress. While some stress is necessary and unavoidable (especially when it comes to work and family), the approach I have found most helpful is to make sure I incorporate activities that are relaxing and enjoyable into my schedule. This is all part of my self-care routine. And one way I love to relax?
Did you know that research shows reading is the best way to relax, and even six minutes can be enough to reduce stress levels?
Research published in 2009 by the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by 68 percent! Reading was found to work better and faster than other methods such as listening to music, going for a walk or sipping on a cup of tea. Psychologists attribute this benefit to the fact that we need to concentrate when we read which helps to ease tension in our bodies.
More surprising, was that the researchers found only 6 minutes of reading is enough to relax you and ease tension!
Incorporating Reading into Your Self Care
Maybe you’re not an active reader? Well the good news is that it really doesn’t matter what type of reading you’re doing. Whether you’re diving into a mystery, biography, or poetry, you are stimulating your creativity and reducing stress.
Here are some suggestions for adding more reading for relaxation into your routine:
1. Make a goal to create a habit
Maybe you make a goal to read for 10 minutes every night this week – and see what happens! Or tack it on to another activity. Having a hot bath? Take a book with you to really treat yourself.
2. Share with others
I love getting book recommendations from others and so I like to pay it forward too. Once I’m done with a book, I swap with a friend.
3. Listen to your books
If you’re really not a reader, maybe you’d prefer to listen to audiobooks instead. Just make sure you listen without any distractions to reap the same benefits.
4. Join a book club
Not only does this give you some accountability to make sure you’ve actually read, but it’s a great way to socialize, built community and new friendships.
So, what books will be on your reading list this summer?