The majority of women I work with come to me because they're unhappy in their careers, or because they need structured guidance for how to move forward in their own business. ALL of my clients experience stress, and many of them turn to food for distraction and quick relief. This is a story I understand all too well.
Personally, when I let stress overwhelm me, I enter a space where I'm desperate for distractions; partially because I am seeking a quick relief, and (on a slightly less conscious level) because I want to blame something or someone else for why I wasn’t as focused, as creative, as eyes-on-the-prize as I imagine “successful people” to be.
Most of us who turn to eating as a distraction have been doing it for many years, and breaking this unconscious pattern is one of the biggest challenges and most genuine gifts you can give to yourself.
Here is how you can get started:
1. Think about when you first turned to food as a distraction.
Is this a pattern in your family? Is it recent, or has it been around for a while? Regardless of how long it's been going on, you're in a very powerful position right now: YOU have the power to change this pattern. Recognize that. It’s huge!
2. Identify the stressors in your life that lead your hand into that box of candy.
Is it tension between people? Is it your flooded email inbox? Is it a certain task at work or at home? Perhaps it’s your own thoughts that are telling you that you're not good enough or that you haven’t accomplished enough yet. Write these stressors down. It's important to see them in front of you. Sometimes my clients are surprised that we don’t immediately start honing in on taking action to solve the problem at hand. Instead, I ALWAYS start exploring the root of their dissatisfaction and their current stressors. By “cleaning house” in this way, you can stop quick-fixing things chronically and actually begin to be in charge of your life.
3. Create a clear vision for how you want your daily life to flow.
Begin with how you want to feel when you wake up in the morning. What do you have for breakfast? How do your interactions with others go? Be specific and don’t hold back.
4. Begin every day with the ambition to align your life with your vision.
This might include setting boundaries with certain people, being more realistic with timing, unsubscribing from newsletters you don’t read, signing up for more yoga classes, or writing more love letters to yourself. Whatever it takes, make a commitment to do one thing every single day that helps you choose consciousness instead of mindless distraction.
5. Practice forgiveness and patience.
If you mess up and have a food-monsterish outburst, it’s ok. Give your belly a little rub and just get back up. A baby isn’t born overnight, just like your new relationship with your stressors and food distractions won’t change in a heartbeat. Small, consistent steps every day are what will lead to profound and lasting change.
Look at your method of distraction, your unconscious stress-diffuser, and begin to work with it. Use it as a guide to discover when stress gets too much for you. Track it. Look for patterns, then play with changing up your routine and ways of doing things, so that stress is an occasional visitor and not an everyday reality.
That’s what feeling alive is all about.