Question from a reader:
When I am angry or stressed, I usually give in to fast food, or chocolate. It is like a self-loathing thing. I don’t know how to explain it. I know you said to make a plan for each emotion, but what does that look like? When I feel happy, I will take the time to make a big salad. When I feel sad, I will write in my journal, rather than jump in my car and go through a drive-thru lane?
First, you don’t need to explain emotional eating. I get it. I’m not sure I can explain it, either, but I get it.
The goal, really, is to disconnect feeling from eating.
So when I’m happy, I’ll share it with friends, or do a happy dance, or write in my journal, or just go about my day feeling good.
Sad, for me, is much harder, because sad doesn’t feel good and we don’t like not feeling good, and we’re using food to try to fix it. (There are chemical reactions involved that make junk food a legitimate brain-chemical short-term fix, much the same as illicit drugs, which just complicates matters further.)
So writing in a journal is a good plan.
My go-to, if I can, is to move. Walk. Run. Lift. Climb. Whatever. Get out of the house or the office, get muscles engaged, get heart rate up, and burn it off. This also has physiological brain chemical effects that help you help yourself.
Some of my best climbing days have been when I’m angry. There have been days when I’ve run up and down bleachers in tears and just kept running until I burned it all off.
If I can’t do that, then writing works pretty well for me.
But I also know some people who do crafty things when they’re needing to work through emotions: play instruments, knit/sew/crochet, make pottery, draw.
Coloring is good sometimes. (I find a kid coloring book and crayons to be more effective in these cases than adults books and pencils. The adult books are so intricate that they require, for me, a little too much thinking for when I’m down. Good for relaxing, oddly, but not for emotional regulation.)
Meditation is good, from what I understand. I’m at the very beginning stages of learning how to do this, so I can’t speak from personal experience.
Maybe listening to music? Or reading? I don’t like to read in those times, because I can’t focus, but maybe you can. Watch TV? Or a TED talk? Or cat videos?
Laughing is good in those times, but it’s hard to come by.
Hopefully something in there resonates for you to try! Good luck!