According to science there are relationships between stress relief activities and happiness. Interestingly, many of the things that bring happiness are also things that relieve stress. I've put together a list of 50 ideas you can try to deal with stress – instead of overeating.
Who will profit most from these strategies
But first let's look at who from my readers will profit most from these strategies and why.
Are you an emotional (over-) eater and stress is part of your everyday life? This kind of eating type is also called “reward eater”. Many busy women over 40 fall into this category. They seldom delay unpleasant tasks, but tackle them systematically and stick to their goals until the end. In this time they are quite stress resistant. After the work is done however, they follow the motto: “If nobody else sees how productive I was, I want at least treat myself with something good”.”
The more emotional they are, the less rational and logically they can think. In these moments it's hard for them to think clearly and seeing alternative viewpoints.
Reward Eater: Vicious cycle of stress and reward
Emotional stress affects also eating habits and overall health. Fact is, eating – even wholesome meals – can reduce stress. Most reward eater however grab what is quick and easy, which is often carbs and sugar. In the same way as they want to treat themselves for their achievements, they are soon annoyed after their uncontrolled overeating, stress eating at night, or binge attack. In consequence negative emotions increase and they risk entering the vicious cycle of stress and reward.
Knowing that your primary trigger might be stress and that you have a hidden craving for relief is a powerful first step to breaking cycles with stress eating, overeating, and mindless eating.
7/11 Breathing – a simple relaxation technique for stress relief
Did you know that keeping the focus on one thing helps you to calm the rest of your mind? The simple “one thing” you can focus on is breathing. You can be happy and satisfied simply by being aware of the sensation of breathing.
Breathing is an automatic behavior, which can be also voluntarily controlled. “Breathing in” stimulates the stress response – “breathing out” stimulates the relaxation response.
The trick: Having longer out-breaths than in-breaths triggers and deepens relaxation. And the more relaxed you are, the clearer you think and the higher the chance to make better decisions and (food) choices.
It's important to breath from deep down in your lungs. A sign that you are doing it right are your stomach moves, while your shoulders remain still. You can count to 7/11 while breathing, so that the in-breath (count of 7) is slightly shorter than the out-breath (count of 11). If you find it too hard to breathe out 11, start off with 3/6 and work up to 7/11.
The great thing about this relaxation technique is that you can practice it everywhere and no one will notice it.
Find below more strategies to relax, acknowledge and reward you. You can even download this poster below and use it as smart coping toolbox for stressful times.
50 healthy ways to deal with stress – instead of overeating
50 ways to release stress enriched with some links
- Slow down and be present.
- Do simple breath work.
- Do a facial mask.
- Call someone you love.
- Write down 3 things you feel grateful today.
- Declutter (get rid of things you don't need).
- Laugh out loud.
- Paint your nails.
- Write yourself a love letter.
- Burn your favorite scent candle.
- Talk to someone you trust about your feelings.
- Give yourself the night off from any screen/phone time.
- Put on your favorite music and dance it out.
- Buy yourself some flowers.
- Support someone else.
- Progressive muscle relaxation.
- Write a healthy meal plan for the week.
- Cuddle with your loved one.
- Wear your favorite perfume.
- Go outside, lie on your back and watch the sky.
- Fix or abandon toxic relationships.
- Create positive affirmations for yourself.
- Guided Meditation.
- Play with your pet.
- Plan a fun weekend for yourself or with your loved one(s).
- Take a long relaxing bubble bath.
- Jump on the trampoline (or on your bed).
- Go for a long walk or run.
- Yell in the bathroom.
- Watch your favorite movie/funny clip.
- Give yourself a pedicure.
- Read a good book.
- Scream into a pillow.
- Mentally visualize your best holidays ever.
- Be extra kind to the people around you.
- Try a new healthy clean eating recipe.
- Have an intense workout session.
- Spend some time in the sun.
- Take a sauna.
- Let yourself cry.
- Practice gratitude with a journal.
- Learn something new.
- Take a nap.
Cultivate real happiness into your life
The best way to release stress and truly finding happiness is to really understand what works for you. For some reward eater, a vigorous run is a great activity for others sitting on the couch and reading a good book. For more inspiration check also the 100 being happy quotes to unlock the key to happiness. Moast of the inspirational sayings are based 0n the 6 things happy people do every day. (backed by science).
Simple trial and error will aid you to find the best healthy ways to cope with stress and find blissful moments in your life instead of overeating. Just remember not to judge yourself for whatever you choose.