Holiday Stress Alert! How to Cope without Overeating

The holidays are here. Food is everywhere. For some of us, that means guaranteed weight gain and subsequent extreme dieting in January.  But does it have to be that way?

For many, the holidays are synonymous with stress. A survey on holiday stress conducted by Healthline revealed that more that 60% of us feel increased stress at this time of year.  

Whether your stress is about finances, scheduling coordination, gift-giving codependence, or comparing your “insides” (how you perceive your reality) with everyone else’s “outsides” (think Target ads where everyone has perfect outfits and home decorations and gets along at family gatherings), many turn to spontaneous eating to self-soothe. 

Unfortunately, there is a strong correlation between stress and spontaneous eating, in that the more you attempt to address your stress with excess food, the more your stress increases.

What to do? Here’s one holiday stress reliever you may not have considered: expressive writing, also known as journaling.

In the 1980s, expressive writing pioneer James Pennebaker began researching the correlation between expressive writing and physical health. His initial studies, and the subsequent hundreds that followed, revealed many health benefits, including reduced anxiety, blood pressure and depression, as well as improved memory, sleep quality, and job performance. 

While expressive writing is not for everyone, you might consider it if you feel you spend too much time thinking about your weight, your body, and dieting. There are numerous ways to write and derive health benefits; try different ones to determine the ones that work best for you. 

Evidence-based expressive writing (AKA journaling) is a surprising way to reduce holiday stress. As an Amazon bestselling author and Health Coach, I teach evidence-based journaling techniques to women year-round in my books and courses to:

  1. Make friends with their body
  2. Improve immune and mental health
  3. Transition from negative self-talk to self-acceptance

One of the most common holiday stressors is what I call the "comparison-compulsive eating shame spiral". Simply put, the more you compare your "insides" with everyone else's "outsides" the more non-nutritious food choices you make, the worse you feel, the more you always fall short and the cycle continues ad infinitum!

Tip for reducing stressors/triggers when they occur: Practice expressive writing (AKA journaling. You can access a FREE journaling worksheet in my Freebie Center. You’ll learn to increase your emotional literacy, which in turn helps you have more clarity around your food choices and be less influenced by your environment. Imagine NOT needing to go on a diet on January 1 this time because you already love your body and feel amazing! How incredible and freeing would that feel? You could just get on with your Big Amazing Life and passions.

So next time you’re stressed and tempted to reach for nutrition-sparse, sugar laden treats, consider reaching for pen and paper instead!


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