Feeling overwhelmed and pressured at work? How a cookie won’t save you…

In the last post, we discussed some quick ways to combat the urge to give in when exposed to treats right near your desk at the office.

Frustrated Woman at Computer With Stack of PaperSo what happens when it’s more than just trying to maintain healthy eating habits?  It could possibly be the ‘oh so ugly’ stress factor!  A day that doesn’t go as planned equals a candy bar and a project that is struggling to reach completion means a bag of chips.  Someone described the situation to me as being not actually physically hungry but “hungry” to just finish or move on to the next thing.  To date, I still haven’t found a donut that will finish a flow chart for me (however if you discover one, certainly let me know…).

In stressful environments, our hormones go into overdrive and our minds habitually look for a way to release the energy that is buzzing through our bodies.  It’s in those moments when you go into panic mode and reach for the munchies.  All sense of logic goes right out the window and food’s pleasure points are being manipulated as a tactic to defer a problematic situation.  The next thing you know you are shoveling out nutella by the spoonful (while secretly praying no one walks by).  Eventually the haze is lifted and your stomach reaches that ill-fitting full feeling.  No, not again!!  You quickly destroy the evidence and spend the rest of the day attacking yourself and full of regret.

woman-eating-at-work

Binging at work due to stress can be one of the worst feelings ever.  I have been there myself and it’s not pretty.  I became so dependent of my splurges just to help me make it through the day!  At the end, I always left feeling sneaky (I had a range of hiding spots to be sure no one actually saw me eating), tired and irritated.  I knew I needed to eventually find a way to stop the cycle as I was well on my way to going up another dress size and worsening my health conditions.

After some investigation, patience, and practice, I can tell you that there are other ways to prevent stress eating without having to give in or berate yourself.  By looking at the context of a situation more closely, you can understand the root or trigger of the overindulgence.  Here are a few tips to help you when you feel the inclination to reach for food a midst a dilemma.

  • Take a breath, re-position your posture and assess the scene.  Give yourself a few moments to see if it’s your mind or your body that is feeling hungry.
  • Remove yourself.  Take a lap around the office or a minute to recollect thoughts outside.  Try not to entertain the story in your mind and let the thoughts drift away from what is freaking you out.  It’s also a good idea to take your lunch away from your desk as often as possible, which will allow yourself the time you need to recharge away from the office environment.
  • Buddy up.  Find a co-worker you can chat with about something off topic or someone that knows your commitment to staying healthy and can help veer you from the temptation.
  • Work on a different project.  Sometimes re-addressing a problem after you have had time to cool down makes it seem less challenging than it had been originally.
  • Try eating a little bit of the healthy snacks you have on hand.  My personal favorites are almonds or unbuttered popcorn, so I can really chomp out any aggression!  Blueberries and grapes also work well, as you can eat a bunch without feeling guilty!  Try also to limit processed foods as they create an additional stress on your digestive system.
  • Drink a glass of water or make some tea.  Herbal tea in particular can help lower anxiety and ease tension, while maintaining a relaxed state of alertness. tea

Remember, don’t to be discouraged if it doesn’t work the first time around.  You can ALWAYS try again.  The focus of these stress reducing tips is really not so much about restricting “bad food” as it is about guiding yourself through a problem without the need for food (or any substance for that matter) as a crutch to alleviate stress.  Remind yourself that you are already equipped with the inner strength and knowledge that you need to work through a difficult task.   Plus, I’ve come to find that things always have a tendency of working out in the end and that all of the excessive stress was never really necessary in the first place…

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