Ideas To Help You Stop Stress Eating At Work

(I was asked to reprise this article)

Does this sound familiar:

“I hate coming to work everyday. My boss is clueless and some of my co-workers are, well, they think they own the place. I don’t know what to do.  But I’m staring at this candy bar calling my name and I know I shouldn’t eat it. I don’t want to, but here it goes into my mouth. By the way, I’ve got 2 more in my desk drawer. Why is it always like this”?

This month let’s help you stress less at work so you don’t end up eating candy bars at your desk.

To get you started, what was going on before you pulled out the candy bar? Was it a situation where you weren’t the one in control, with someone else directing all the action? Or did someone say something to humiliate or chastise you?

Two, in either situation, did you take back control, stand up for yourself, or back down? I’m gonna bet you didn’t take back control and that you backed down. Am I right?

When you don’t stand your ground with firm boundaries, you can leave the office with footprints all over your back. You might feel unappreciated, disrespected, ignored, or manipulated. Add this to not having a sense of control, like too many time pressures or not being able to participate in any decision-making, and you’ve got a recipe for some serious work stress.

Both of these situations can set up, what Dr. Pamela Peeke calls, the “stew and chew” response.  Your stress response goes into overdrive, increasing your cortisol and adrenaline levels. The cortisol can lead to cravings for sweet, starchy, high fat foods. Research shows that about two-thirds of stressed out people will reach for food like that. Combining the cortisol with adrenaline gives you the fuel to help you run away from this source of stress.

But you don’t run away, you don’t do anything physical at all. You sit there, rehearse over and over in your mind what happened, swear it won’t happen again, and then, you down the candy bar, inhaling it so fast, you have no idea what it tastes like and you may not even really remember eating it. Plus you still don’t feel any better.

Then the same stress eating cycle repeats later in your day.

You need something to turn off and keep off this chronic response.

Next time, before that candy bar touches your lips, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What just happened? Identify the 5 W’s of the situation (who, what, when, where, why). You can even do this if you are ruminating about something in the past. Get very clear and specific on this.
  2. Do I have control over this situation? For example, if it’s a new time demand, maybe there’s room for negotiation. Or sometimes, you may have to say NO and mean it.
  3. What else can I do? Begin to brainstorm other ways you might handle the same or similar situation in the future. For example: be more assertive; do deep breathing; go for a walk or do some pushups (my personal favorite); or simply, don’t bring any more candy to work.

As always, I love helping women live happier, healthier lives. Whether you call it depression, anxiety, stress, or nerves, I’d like to help. I invite you to call me at 512.680.2874 for your free phone consultation. We can discuss if therapy or coaching could be what you’re looking for.

Looking forward to hearing your story and helping you feel better,

Dr. B.

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