When my employer and the gym both shut their doors, I began working from home. Then I was laid off. Although I make as much on unemployment as I did work, I’m bored. Worse, I’ve gained weight, at least eight pounds.
I’m not yet ready to go back to the gym. I walk around the neighborhood and work out with YouTube videos to work out, but I’m still at home all day and eat. I’ve heard you’re a personal life coach as well as a workplace coach and wonder if you can help me.
You’re using food as a boredom antidote and wearing the evidence.
Many people eat to comfort, calm or cope. When we were little and hurt ourselves or felt out of sorts, our parents gave us a hug, a kiss, and a cookie. We felt better.
When the hug and kiss aren’t available, we can still find a cookie. If we learn that eating comforts, nurtures or entertains, any emotion can trigger eating. If COVID now gives you a sense of powerless over your job situation or other areas of your life, food becomes something you can control and give to yourself. You use eating.
Food is a terrific and a terrible nurturer – it distracts you from boredom or hurt, anesthetizes pain, and shoots calming endorphins into the bloodstream. Unlike other forms of self-care, overeating becomes self-hurt.
You need to break the between emotions and eating.
When you find yourself tempted to eat, ask yourself: Am I hungry for food or is there an emotion or situation troubling me? What am I feeling? When you name the emotion and begin to feel it directly and without plastering it over with food, you take the first step in conquering the emotion/food trigger.
Once you name an emotion, tackle it directly. Ask yourself: In what non-calorie way can I comfort, calm or entertain myself? How can I cope with this emotion in a way that doesn’t add weight and later regret? What can I do to express or discharge this emotion? How can I take power over this situation?
Once you commit to managing your emotion without covering it with food, you free yourself to try activities that give you pleasure, insight, and peace. Can you call a close friend and talk? That would get the issues out on the table and provide comfort and perspective without calories.
Can you write about the situation or your feelings in a journal? When you write, you get the emotions out from inside and into the light of day, where you can gain clarity or perspective. You can publish your writing on a blog and regain the feeling of connectedness work may have given you.
Can you allow yourself to really feel the emotion and let it “work it out?” When you allow yourself to feel an emotion, instead of anesthetizing yourself with food or drink, you can “get past” the emotion.
Can you nurture yourself with a hot bubble bath, a good book, or a long walk? If you choose a method that gives you pleasure, without calories, you win an altered mood and conquer your food impulse.
Are you bored without work? Can you find a job? If not, can you create an Internet-based company where you turn COVID into the inspiration you need to finally work for yourself? The Internet is full of stories of those who make more money working for themselves providing services others need, such as food delivery. Even if the working for yourself only works temporarily or on a limited basis, it can antidote between-job boredom.
Good luck and write back:)
© 2020, Lynne Curry
Lynne Curry is the author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” (AMACOM, 2016) and “Solutions.”Curry is President of Communication Works Inc. Send your questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10.