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.
Slipping into Soothing Sensations
When you are looking for comfort, try calming one or more of your senses. You'll be amazed at how well this lessens the need to emotionally eat.
- Light therapy. Sunlight or bright full-spectrum light on your skin can significantly improve your mood. It's one of the main forms of treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is a mild form of depression some people experience during the winter months when there is little sunlight (Golden et al. 2005). Sunlight helps reset your internal clock and increases your serotonin levels. When you feel you need comfort, sit by a window in indirect sunlight or go outdoors for thirty minutes—but don't forget to use sunscreen and sunglasses. If there's very little sunlight in the wintertime where you live or if you can't get outdoors, investigate buying a therapy light. These are bright lights you can use indoors that have the same healing effect as sunlight does.
- Sip hot or cold tea. If there's a pattern to your stress eating, you may want to schedule teatime for yourself at some point in the day when you might be prone to eat for emotional reasons. Tea is chemically complex. It has many different ingredients that affect neurotransmitters and other mood-regulating chemicals. Black tea has been shown to lower cortisol, a stress hormone (Steptoe et al. 2006). Chamomile is one type of herbal tea well-known for its soothing and calming properties.
- Apply a warm or cold washcloth. To calm your body, put a damp washcloth over your eyes, feet, or forehead. Choose a warm or cool cloth depending on what sounds the most soothing to you at the moment.