Learn the 5 steps needed to keep up your forward momentum without stress eating or burning out.
Cathartic – bringing about relief from strong emotions usually by expressing them (Merriam-Webster).
We are encouraged to “just get it out and you’ll feel better” which is true a lot of the time. Most of my clients feel relieved when they talk through pent-up feelings. It’s the feeling of a weight being lifted off their shoulders. And the result is feeling less stressed even if it’s for a little bit.
Sometimes an epiphany, spark, insight or whatever it is called will happen, but that is a rare event.
Simply understanding the why or when stress eating starts rarely stops it in the future and in fact your forward momentum without stress eating requires different skills.
Waiting and hoping for the ‘why’ to appear is wasting your time and energy. Energy you can use to create momentum that moves your life in a less stressful and more positive direction.
When you have momentum, it provides the energy for action taking, so that you receive what you need.
Instead of spinning around in circles, re-experiencing the emotion over and over, harness that energy and use it to transform your relationship with stress eating and burnout.
You can propel your life into a life of kindness, self-compassion and fulfillment. You can change your relationship with yourself and keep up your momentum without stress eating and burning out.
The key is to increase your emotional awareness, so that you know how to support yourself when you experience a specific emotion.
The most difficult part of the process right at the beginning – the decision to act – and the rest is focus and tenacity.
Even when stress is high and you feel spent you still can make changes that matter.
The Stages of Change Model is a great framework to understand the process of change. Carlo C. DiClemente and J. O. Prochaska, conceptualized these changes based on their research about how people are able to move out of addiction. Many studies since have shown that the process is the same regardless of if it’s addiction, job, an organization, or stress eating.
There are five stages of change:
- Pre-contemplation – not ready or not aware that there’s a problem.
- Contemplation – knowing there’s a problem and you want to do something about it but are not ready yet.
- Determination – you make a plan on how to solve the problem.
- Action – you take action on your plan to solve the problem.
- Maintenance – you do what you need to do to maintain the solution.
Since you’re reading this article, my guess is that you’re most likely in the contemplation stage. You know there’s a problem. It’s getting to you and you want to change it, but you’re not sure how. Another thought might be that you don’t know if the solution will be any better than the current one, even when you know it’s not helpful. Lastly, you might not be ready to give the solution up yet no matter how much it pains you.
The next stage of determination is when you’re making the plan. Using the tools below to help you develop your plan to stop stress eating and burning out. Your hope is growing and you’re optimistic that life will be better without stress eating.
Action is the stage where you implement your plan and make adjustments as needed. As you move along in this stage, you’ll begin to experience relief from stress eating and the peace of Conscious Eating.
Below is a plan to help you move through these three middle stages of change. It is worth the effort to move through the stages, so you can live free from stress eating and prevent burnout.
Here is the 5-step process to work with your feelings and gain momentum without stress eating or burning out.
1. Get the feeling out.
This is where it’s all about catharsis. Get the feeling out of your head and on paper through journaling, in conversation with someone, in artwork, etc. Just get it outside of yourself so you can get a little distance from it living inside you.
Go outside and let yourself experience the feeling while you also get fresh air and a fresh perspective.
Focus on how you experience the feeling and any new insight you have about it.
Allow yourself time to understand the feeling as you experience it. The more you consciously experience the feeling the more awareness of what can help increases too.
2. Specifically identify the feeling.
The next step is to increase your knowledge of the feeling you’re experiencing.
What sense do you have of the feeling?
What does it feel like in your body?
Does the feeling increase anxiety, anger, impatience or something else?
This will help you figure out what you need to calm the feeling.
When you listen to what your mind, body and heart are communicating to you, you’ll have the info you need to move to the next step.
3. Specifically identify the surrounding feelings.
Take note of the smaller feelings, the feelings that pop up as you spin around the feeling that’s got your attention.
What other aspects of the feeling are you noticing? Sometimes it’s helpful to think of them as sub-feelings. Think of them in terms of percentages. It might be 10 percent of one feeling, 30 percent of another, 70 percent of a different one.
These feelings add to the quality of the main feeling you’re experiencing. They will help you understand more fully your relationship with yourself.
They also help you to define what you need from yourself, your body and others.
4. Specifically define what you need.
Now that you have a pretty good idea of the qualities of the feeling you’re experiencing and the smaller feelings that help to shape your experience.
Take a step back and look at the big picture –
What is it that you wish you could have to make it better?
Are there skills that could calm or soothes the feeling?
What will get you closer to your goal?
5. Now take a few minutes and think about a variety of choices you can make to move you closer to living your life more fully, more consciously.
This can even include “not yet.” It’s okay to take time for planning. The challenge is to increase your awareness of when you’re scared and procrastinating, so that you’ll also know when it’s time to take the leap and get moving.
Getting started is often the most difficult part of any journey. It takes the more energy to move from a standstill than taking one step after another. When you feel burned out it takes even more energy. Yet, when you make changes a bit at a time, it adds up and can change everything.
Most of the time people get overwhelmed by feelings because they’ve never knew that understanding your emotions is a skill that can be learned at any point in life. Gaining momentum without stress eating or burnout is a bit easier when you have a framework to manage your emotions. Today is the day that changes for you!