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5 Ways to Calm Anxiety without Food

Katie Horrell, MS, RDN

We have so much going on during the holidays, a little stress is inevitable! When we face stressors that cause us anxiety, we often turn to food to cope with these tough emotions. This can go against the healthy habits we’ve built throughout the year. Thankfully, there ARE strategies that we can utilize to cope with holiday anxiety that uphold our health goals. Let’s dive into what they might look like!

1. Occupy your mind

We all know the feeling of anxiety or worry when it hits. Our mind races, and we can’t stop thinking about whatever it is that’s stressing us out. One great way to help racing thoughts is to replace that inner voice with something else- e.g. your favorite podcast, music, or simply having a conversation with a friend or family member.  It’s hard to over think when we have something else to fill in that space!

2. Practice guided yoga or meditation

Yoga and meditation can be hard for people dealing with anxiety, because we have a tendency to think about the process instead of the presence. This can negate the calming effects that we hear so much about!  Try following along with guided meditations! It goes hand in hand with tip number 1 – if you have a calm voice guiding you through it, you don’t have to “fight” your own thoughts in order to focus.

3. Repeat a Mantra

Mantras can be whatever you want them to be. In a nutshell, you want to think of a phrase or even a word that centers you and brings you back to the present moment. Need a few examples before you come up with your own? Try: “I am in charge of fueling my body mindfully.” or “Food is fuel!”.

4. Journal about your thoughts & feelings

Sometimes replacing one thought with another is helpful. Other times, we really need to vent and truly get to the bottom of what is bothering us. This is when journaling becomes our best friend! Let it all out on paper, in a word document, or an online journal! You’ll be amazed at what you uncover when you take the time to write it out.

5. Indulge mindfully!

It’s the holidays – treats are bound to make their way onto your plate. If and when they do, savour every bite! If you choose to indulge but shame yourself the whole way through, little enjoyment comes out of that experience. We tend to eat less and have more positive experiences with food when we do so in a mindful way, so enjoy that holiday cookie!

Keep in mind that stress is a normal part of life (and the holidays). Enjoy this time and listen to what stress-relieving technique your body needs in the moment. From all of us at Noom, Happy Holidays!