In my work as a psychologist, I help clients every day overcome eating issues, lose weight, beat body image concerns, and adopt a more mindful life. In many cases, I hear the same problem: negative emotions.
These emotions often cause people to eat when they are bored, blue, angry, stressed, or overwhelmed. It makes sense. Eating tones down negative emotions — for the short term. I teach people how to replace the fleeting benefits of stress eating with healthier, mindful alternatives that really work.
Numerous clients have told me that when they become more mindful of their bodies and tune in closely to their emotions, it not only helps with their eating, but it also helps them better enjoy their relationships and jobs.
I like to recommend nine tips from my book, 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, a variety of simple practices designed to increase mindfulness. In turn, this can lead to reduced stress, better food choices, and healthy ways to soothe and calm your nerves without any calories.
1. Enjoy an Epsom salt soak.
Add 2 cups of Epsom salt and ½ cup of olive oil into warm bathwater and soak for 15 minutes. Soothing water therapy, which has been around since ancient times, helps quiet and relax the body. Even a short soak helps you to center and make better choices.
2. Try a mustard bath.
Mix ¼ cup mustard seed powder, ¼ cup Epsom salt, ½ cup baking soda, and 6 drops of your favorite essential oil. Pour the mixture in a hot bath. A mustard soak helps relax and detox your body as well as soothe tired or torn muscles — two issues that often lead to emotional eating.
3. Give your eyes a break.
Rest and reset tired eyes by rubbing your hands together then gently placing your warm palms over closed eyelids for 1 to 3 minutes.
4. Practice child's pose.
Kneel on a carpet or soft mat, drop your bottom to your knees, and lean forward, stretching your arms out in front of you and resting your forehead on either a pillow or the floor. Breathe deeply in and out for 5 minutes.
5. Warm up.
Improve your sleep by warming your pajamas in the dryer for 5 minutes and slipping into them just before bed.
6. Have teatime.
Enjoy a daily cup of cinnamon or black tea. Both have been proven to help reduce cortisol, a hormone responsible for fight-or-flight stress and often weight gain.
7. Do self-massage.
Use a tennis ball to relax and release muscles after a long day. Gently roll tired feet over the tennis ball or place it between your shoulders, lean against a wall, and slowly move from side to side.
8. Take a stand.
Take a break from sitting by placing your hands on either side of an open doorway, then leaning gently forward on your weight. Sitting is the new smoking — it can take years off your life. Standing periodically gives you a natural energy boost without having to go for a candy bar, and the shoulder stretch and chest opening helps relieve tension from sitting at a keyboard.
9. Give yourself a nutrition boost.
Stock up on magnesium, vitamin D, and iron, which help our bodies run smoothly. People notice when they're dragging, and these are helpful for re-energizing your body. Load up on leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, almonds, mushrooms, and orange juice.