Over the past year, you may have experienced heightened anxiety due to the disruption in your normal routine. Likely, this may have left you feeling sad, angry or out of control. You might be scared that being unable to exercise and follow your normal meal plan will worsen your fitness levels or body composition and cause you to return to unhelpful behaviours, such as over-eating, in order to relieve your tension and cope with the uncertainty.
Unhelpful eating habits can often be accompanied with other mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, perfectionism and low self-worth. The current forced isolation due to COVID-19 can further add to the struggle of feeling disconnected from others, or feeling trapped in a negative cycle of obsessive thoughts around food and the scale.
I have put together 3 self-help tips to help you manage your unhelpful eating behaviours, so that anxiety and stress around food, eating and weight does not become overwhelming.
Start with a micro goal; do one small thing for ten minutes, every day that makes you feel good – a healthy new mini habit! This will become the beginning of a new healthy routine, and will help prevent future self-sabotage.
1. STRUCTURE YOUR DAY
It is normal to experience feelings of anxiety, fear, frustration, boredom and loneliness as a result of the uncertainty we encountered this past year.
Keeping some structure in your day, and having a plan of the tasks that you would like to accomplish each day, will help you feel in control and maintain a form of routine during this challenging period in human history.
You could try small things like getting up and going to bed at the same time, eating at certain times of the day, and spending time with family. Some clients I work with find it helpful to create a plan for the day ahead, with activities they enjoy doing integrated around their work schedule.
2. SET ASIDE WORRY TIME
You may be feeling out of control and overwhelmed and finding yourself reaching out for food to soothe or distract yourself from your emotions.
Acknowledge the emotions and distress you are experiencing. You can even use an evening journal to note them down. This will help you both tolerate and soothe your emotions without the need to engage in emotional eating.
Set aside worry time each day where for 10-15 minutes you kindly challenge your worries and thoughts with a rational mind, finding a more helpful thing to say to yourself. This will help to contain your thoughts, and build a series of positive things you can say to yourself.
If your anxiety feels a 4 out of 10, try to find an activity that calms you down, such as going for a walk, taking a hot shower or calling a friend. If your anxiety feels an 8 out of 10, it is important to have a close friend or family member you can reach out to share your worries, or contact myself for extra support with 1-to-1 commitment focused coaching.
3. NOURISH YOUR BODY WITH NUTRITION & FOCUS ON THE BASICS
You might be feeling angry or anxious that you can’t exercise or go to the gym as normal, and scared this may cause you to gain weight. It is important to use the self-isolation period as an opportunity to slow down, rest and nourish your body with healthy foods to maintain good physical and mental health. Not sure what to make? Download your free copy of the 100+ recipe cookbook.
Explore some light exercise you can do at home, or we can build a custom plan based on the equipment that you have available. Remind yourself of your motivation and intention for fit living and focus on small steps of change.
I work with all aspects of mental health and wellbeing, combining CBT-Fitness coaching and counselling skills to help you manage your unhelpful behaviours, with nutritional and lifestyle interventions to support you in building optimal physical and mental health.