As self-isolation becomes the new norm and working from home is our thing, our days are now disconnected and disjointed. Once routined, organised and rhythmic, now for many of us our days are less busy, quiet and filled with stress and anxiety. The hum of the office talk, ringing of mobiles is replaced with our own silent monologue or the constant sound of the news revealing the Coronavirus updates.
We know that as human beings we are social creatures who need social connections to thrive. When we cannot maintain these connections, we feel a void and begin to look for other ways to cope. Added to this, Coronavirus-related stress and anxiety is impacting our routine and turning our usual eating habits upside down. With the changes in our routine, and of course for many, changes in our financial situation – how we eat, what we eat, and the quantity of what we are eating is being greatly affected. For many of us, food is becoming our friend and our foe.
Recognising that we are in a stress response is so important and is the first step towards making some important changes. Over-eating, stress eating or binge eating in the long run, is not a solution and neither is not eating. Different ends of the continuum, and neither end in a healthy way.
Unfortunately, turning to food for comfort and solutions is not the answer and neither does it offer long-term satisfaction. It is just a habit, just like washing your hands after going to the bathroom. Eating for comfort is a habit we learnt, and one we have kept because for many of us, it has served a purpose – it has self-soothed us. But if you take a moment to have a look at exactly what it is you’re turning to in the fridge or the pantry, it can often give you some clue as to what it is that you’re feeling, and of course offer you a solution and alternative to having that food source in the moment. Food cannot address an emotional need, it cannot make you feel less lonely, it cannot be your friend, it cannot make you laugh, gossip with you, go for a walk with you.
So if you’re tucking into a tub of rich creamy ice cream or bowls of desserts, chances are you’re seeking comfort, nurturing and soothing. Instead, cuddle your pet or have a relaxing bath, massage some oils onto your body. If you’re craving crunchy nuts, pretzels or chips, you’re probably feeling angry or frustrated. Go for a brisk walk, FaceTime a friend or colleague, watch a movie. And if you’re filling up on pizzas, muffins and cakes then chances are you are feeling empty and need to fill yourself up… but there are healthier ways. Fill yourself up with self-love, compassion and kindness. Reach out to loved ones or trained professionals.
Delving into what lies beneath your desire to binge on corn chips, tubs of ice cream or blocks of chocolate will reveal your buried emotions, hidden thoughts and help you to discover many of your long forgotten unresolved issues. It is these areas that need to be addressed, because they are the drivers that lead you to the fridge and the pantry.
The government has allocated money to psychologists to offer online and telehealth to clients at the moment, so reach out for help. It is available with a valid Mental Health Care Plan. Use this time productively. We are here to support you.