Excerpt from 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food
It's time to stop going to the refrigerator or cupboards whenever you feel the urge to eat and start dealing with the problems you're trying to mask. Start with these 10 self-soothing techniques from psychologist Dr. Susan Albers' book 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food.
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If you use food as a way to zone out, try out alternative ways to get a short mental break. Focus on repetitive, monotonous tasks. But first, get into the right frame of mind. Sit down. Give yourself permission to zone out. This part can be hard for busy moms, for type A personalities, or if you just have trouble sitting still. To help you work on emptying your mind, first imagine dumping out the contents of a wastepaper basket. Then imagine all the thoughts in your brain are pouring out of your head in the same way that you emptied the wastepaper basket. Now pick a mindless activity to do:
- Try flipping through a magazine. This is an activity that is barely active, mildly amusing, and doesn't require any mental effort at all. Reading a book takes too much mental energy. But just looking at pictures and scanning through photos is enough to decompress mindlessly and can also absorb nervous energy.
- Watch TV. Turning on the TV can often help you zone out. Sometimes, however, it just isn't active enough to keep you distracted. If watching TV doesn't do it for you, try flipping the channels. Make sure you aren't with others, as this will drive them a little crazy. This is similar to flipping through a magazine. The many images flashing before your eyes stimulate your mind and senses but don't require any active mental work.
- Do you want to zone out totally? Try closing your eyes. Focus on staring at the void and the blackness on the inside of your eyelids.
- Get back to basics. Think about some of the things you liked to do as a child. There is nothing more calming than nostalgic memories from childhood, like shaping Play-Doh or coloring mindlessly. Playing doesn't use much mental energy, and it's fun, stimulates your imagination, and boosts your energy.
- Try origami, the ancient Japanese art of folding paper. Go to origami.com for hundreds of examples. This is a very easy and mindless activity that will keep your hands busy and out of the cookie jar.