At this drizzly and gray time of year, many of us find comfort in overeating and indulging in treats laden with sugar, salt, and saturated fat. However, if you find yourself doing this more often than not, it is likely that you're an emotional eater. This behavior is more than just seasonal and often stems from much deeper and more complex issues like low self-esteem and lack of confidence.
So with Valentine's Day fast approaching, here is some guidance on how to start rebuilding a loving relationship with yourself, which will take you steps closer to achieving optimal emotional and physical health.
1. Learn to recognize negative thought patterns.
Negative thoughts are unproductive and fruitless; they fail to add any real value to our existence and instead encourage negative feelings to arise and consume us. Often, we fall victim to the views of our own unforgiving critic, who always sees the glass as half-empty. At first, it might be hard to notice your pessimistic thoughts, but once identified, try working on replacing each negative one with a positive one. If you can transform the belief "I will never be able to do that…" to "I don't know how to do that right now, but with practice I can learn" then you can literally rewrite your future. Although it may take a while to fully uproot your negative thought patterns, these changes will significantly improve your sense of self-worth, general well-being, and relationship with food.
2. Practice self-acceptance.
Given the all-pervading nature of the media, it is no wonder many of us have qualms about our body image. Indeed, comparing ourselves to the Photoshopped and airbrushed celebrities that we see in magazines and on social media can often leave us feeling deeply unsatisfied with the way we look. But the truth is that we are all made to be different shapes and sizes. As such, it's important to start loving and accepting yourself the way you are. So rather than focusing on your looks, start paying attention to the wonderful qualities of your character. Are you good with children? Are you compassionate toward others? Can you sing beautifully?
3. Act from a place of gratitude.
Rather than agonizing over what could happen or worrying about what you lack in life, why not take stock of what you have achieved and how far you have come? Replace one negative thought with two thoughts of what you have to be grateful for. For example, replace "I'm not earning enough money" with "I have a great social network" or "I love my walk to work." Approaching your life from a place of abundance rather than absence has been scientifically proven to reap positive benefits for your health, social life, and general well-being.
4. Create self-love rituals.
Many people are often so overwhelmed with the chaos of everyday life, they neglect their self-care and relaxation routine. However, by giving yourself some valuable downtime you will recharge your body, nourish your mind, and lift your spirits. Create some self-love and relaxation rituals that do not involve food: Start with small changes, such as going to bed one hour earlier, treating yourself to a monthly massage, lighting some scented candles, or taking a long bath. Learning some new skills or taking up a new hobby with also help to increase your self-esteem.
4. Use available resources.
Self-help books, websites, and worksheets are not new concepts and—if used with an open mind—can reap great benefits for your emotional well-being. With such a wide range of self-help resources available, you are bound to find something that speaks to you. In addition to this, consider using daily positive affirmations as a tool to build your confidence, replace your negative thought patterns, and help you stay motivated. Find or create an affirmation that you believe in and that resonates with you. For instance, in a stressful situation, use "I notice that I am out of my alignment. I choose peace instead of this."
By equipping yourself with these tools, you are taking the necessary steps to improve your self-confidence and self-love. Training yourself to think and act this way will help uproot emotional eating and enable you to reach a state of overall health and wellness.