How many of us have too much to juggle in the course of our daily life? And how much of what we have to juggle is just impossible, keeping balls in the air which we don’t own or even get to hold? When we are doing this, a lot of unnecessary guilt ensues. For many of us, guilt is a primary trigger for emotional eating. Guilt makes us feel bad, we often cannot fix the problem, and a response to it is often to look for a quick feel-good solution. For some, this may be chips in front of the TV, or ice cream in the car outside the drive-in. If guilt is affecting your ability to reach other life goals, to lose weight or be healthy, you may benefit from developing other strategies to manage the guilt.
1) Establish what you can and cannot control. If something you are feeling bad about is out of your control, figure out what you can do about the problem, make an action plan, and work hard to separate yourself from the outcome of the part you cannot control. For example, if changes at work have everyone upset and grumpy, try to focus on your daily tasks and keeping your own mood stable, without getting pulled into others’ discontent. Also make sure you have leisure activities organized for your free time, to keep you busy and not brooding.
2) Validate your feelings – for example, I feel bad that my child is not getting along well in school – and then focus on what you can do which is in your control – an example could be looking into counseling or school-based programs for help, or creating a supportive homework environment at home – but not taking responsibility for either your child or the school.
3) Make a list of at least five things, not including food, that you can do to soothe or comfort yourself; some examples would be to take a bubble bath, talk with a good friend for a while, listen to music through headphones. Not everything works for everyone; figure out what is best for you, then practice doing it whenever you feel stressed.
Life is full of hurdles and irritations; make sure you have ways to cope that help not harm you.