Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Manage Stress

Thursday, September 6, 2018 | 9:44 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , No comments

Stress and finding balance!
Stress – we all have experienced it – probably more often than we would like to admit!  Managing stress is possible, and when done properly, can be healthy and beneficial to our bodies.  When we experience stress, we automatically initiate our stress response, better known as the “fight or flight” reaction. This process is our body’s natural way of dealing with any stress that we face in our daily lives.

We can experience stress about negative events such as traffic or school deadlines…  as well as experience stress about positive, life changing events such as moving into a new place, completing a major project, starting classes….  Whether negative or positive, all events trigger stress, and the reality is, without it, life would be dull and boring!  How we handle stress is important.

Stress Eating
Many of us are guilty of it – emotional eating.  We love our favorite comfort foods and make sure they are available when we are feeling “stressed out.” During these stressful moments there is an actual hormonal reaction that can triggers emotional eating – cortisol is released, which is an appetite stimulant.  Therefore triggering our desire to overeat in the moment of stress.  Eating can also serve as a distraction, allowing us to put aside our worries for the time being.  Unfortunately, we often feel guilty after an episode of overeating to deal with stress.

Tips to Control Stress Eating
  • Learn to distinguish between true hunger and purely emotional hunger
  • Know your triggers and recognize consistent negative eating patterns
  • Try comfort in another form, such as walking, watching a movie or talking to a friend
  • Avoid making unhealthy treats readily available
  • When you decide to snack, indulge in healthy choices such as fruit, vegetables or low fat snacks
  • Exercise regularly and get enough sleep
  • If you do find yourself emotionally eating – start fresh the next day! 
Helping Yourself
Managing stress starts within – only we know our bodies and our own personal limitations. It is important to schedule time for yourself and set reasonable standards for yourself and others.

Tips and Tricks to Manage Stress
  • Exercise
  • Stretch
  • Get a massage
  • Listen to good music
  • Talk to family and friends about your feelings
  • Get help when you need it
  • Be realistic and learn to say NO if you may become overwhelmed
  • Meditate or take a yoga class
  • Indulge in a favorite hobby or activity
If you have tried self-help options but you still can't control emotional eating, consider therapy with a mental health professional. Therapy can help you understand why you eat emotionally and learn coping skills.

References:
  1. Weight loss: Gain control of emotional eating: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthylifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20047342. 
  2. Why stress causes people to overeat: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-stress-causes-people-to-overeat

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