It’s asking us to do things we never thought we’d have to do.
Scary, uncertain, uncomfortable and for who knows how long.
That’s a recipe for 24/7 anxiety soup.
Stress hormone is not meant to be elevated for long periods of time. Ideally it’s mobilized in short bursts for life-threatening danger, and it works great for that (run away from predator!).
Not so much for prolonged fear. It wreaks havoc on our bodily systems after a while, including our immune system.
As grown-ups it’s up to us to manage our mind, especially now.
Is that asking a lot? Yes.
But here’s the thing: YOU CAN DO THIS.
You can rise to the occasion, settle yourself down and be a source of calm for those around you.
How do I know? You have to. No choice.
And what I know of us—we can do hard things. Here’s how:
Firstly, do what you’re supposed to do:
Social distancing will save lives. We don’t know whose but we know for certain it will be someone loved, maybe by you. Here’s a great article that explains it well.
Wash your hands. Use soap and water for 20 seconds. That works to clean your hands. Save the hand sanitizer for when you’re not near a sink—and for most of us at home, we’re always near a sink.
Don’t touch your face. It’s how viruses get in—through the wet surfaces of your face (eyes, nose, mouth). This is most important if you’re out of your house and touch anything.
Then there’s the stuff that will keep your immune system in tip-top shape:
Get good sleep—7 to 9 hours is recommended.
Stay well hydrated—2 liters of water a day is ideal.
Move your body—extra points if it’s out in nature. Walks totally count.
Eat well—nutritious food, minimally processed, lots of veggies
Manage your stress levels
I’m here to help you with that last one.
It’s everything right now.
What we don’t want is panicked people stressing each other out in confined places and eating their way through this pandemic.
That won’t help anyone, including your waistline and the food supply.
We have an opportunity.
A crash course in “How to Cope without Eating Everything in Sight.”
Dialing that in now means you’ll emerge better, stronger, thinner and have an awesome skill ready for the near future when you’re up for that promotion or planning a wedding.
Here’s the two-pronged approach:
General Coping and Food Specific Coping
Both are needed to reduce anxiety and prevent weight gain.
General Good Things To Do to Better Cope in this Challenging Time:
Calm your brain
Practice being present—this works especially well right now. If you close your eyes and check in with yourself you’ll find that everything is ok right this second. Really. Do that as many times as you remember, it’ll reset your anxiety meter each time.
Limit your news intake by giving yourself a time limit and sticking to reliable sources.
Meditate. Double down on your practice or start one. Headspace is one of my favorite resources and they have a bunch of free things available right now.
Make a daily list of five things you’re grateful for (no repeats). As the list grows you’ll appreciate all the things going right.
Keep a routine
Have some touchstone activities that let your brain and body know it’s time to work, time to move, time to eat, time to relax and time for bed.
Connect with at least two people every day.
Help someone each day (brighten their day with a phone call, email or letter, get your older neighbor or family member some groceries, give to organizations helping with the pandemic, or think of something else and let us know about it.)
Food Specific Things To Do to Prevent Weight Gain in this Challenging Time:
Plan your food for the day
This is key. If you plan out what you’re going to eat, you’ll have a roadmap and you’ll clearly know if you veer off course.
This is even better than logging. Just use your food logging system to pre-plan your food.
Eat when you’re just hungry (not ravenous) -2 and stop when you’re satisfied (not full) +2.
Exercise environmental control
If it ain’t there you can’t eat it.
Consider thinking of some foods as off limits unless they’re needed for emergencies.
Create your comfort list
Make a list of activities you can do when you’re bored, anxious or scared that don’t involve food.
Put copies in places where you’ll see it when you need it most.
When you feel the anxiety level rising or you find yourself reaching for the fridge handle when you’re not hungry, stop and write down what you’re thinking and feeling. Be curious. Write it all out without censoring. This alone may defuse the discomfort, but either way you’ll start to see patterns of thinking that get you eating when you don’t want to. This awareness is the first step to permanent change.
Be well, stay safe and use this time to get control over emotional eating once and for all. You can do this.
Watch the 2 part video series: How to Cope Without Eating Everything in Sight. Just scroll down to get the details on each step. Better yet, download your FREE "How to Cope" Workbook right here and follow along.