Posts Tagged ‘mindful eating’

Mindful Politics

It’s getting to be THAT time of the year, actually THAT time of the 4 year cycle leading up to another presidential election.  Can you feel it in your body?  Maybe it’s just me, but I know that I can.  There is a tightening in my stomach which usually signals stress and/or anxiety for me.

I’m aware of the political ads that my husband and I are trying to dodge by prerecording everything we want to watch, so we can “fast forward x3” through the ads.  There’s always some that somehow get through our filtering attempts.

I’m noticing that my clients are becoming more concerned about the outcome of the upcoming election.  They have plenty to say about each candidate.  Of course, as a psychotherapist,  I need to be neutral & resist the urge to add my 2 cents’ worth.  That comes with a price.  Whenever I stuff down thoughts and feelings I have to pay afterwards.  What does that mean?  For me, it means that unless I am able to clear that energy, I will notice that I have urges to eat food when I’m not hungry.  In my life, food has been my drug of choice.  I no longer allow it to have it’s way with me, but I do still feel the old familiar siren call when I am stressed &/or anxious.

You see, food, or any other addiction can help us “change the channel” on an uncomfortable feeling that we don’t want to experience.  We go on a search for the food, devour it mindlessly and then fall into remorse about having overeaten.  In the process the stress, anxiety, depression, anger or whatever has been forgotten. (Apparently remorse is preferable to the other uncomfortable feelings, perhaps because it is so familiar.)

In order to not have to pay the price, I have to invite myself, mindfully, to experience the original uncomfortable stress or anxiety.  I “let go” of the story line of why I’m feeling that way & just notice the stomach tightening or tightness in my throat or wherever I am feeling it.  I slowly & mindfully breathe while I am doing this.  Eventually the feeling will dissipate.

I have also learned that it is a good idea for me to limit the amount of political pundits I watch on TV or online.  It just gets me stirred up.

Apparently I get stirred up because I believe that my candidates have to win!  Now, I have been around long enough to have many of my candidates not win.  I have always thought that it would be the end of the world.  Obviously I was wrong about that.  Somehow life goes on and things settle down again.

This year my plan is to remind myself that it will all be workable even if the “wrong” folks get into office.  Life is too short to tie myself into knots for months.  I can do my part by voting and even working for a particular candidate if that is what I choose to do.  I can mindfully trust that life will continue to provide wondrous experiences, no matter what,  if I remember to bring myself into the present moment and notice those wondrous experiences.

Mindless Eating Can Eat Away At Your Relationship with Yourself

How do you feel about yourself after you discover that you polished off a bag of potato chips when your intention was just to “have a couple”?  What do you say to yourself when you try on the jeans that fit great just a few months ago and the zipper won’t proceed upward due to excess flesh?

These are times when we are likely to beat ourselves up by yelling at ourselves, grunting our disgust and vowing to solve this problem once and for all by going on, yet another, starvation diet.

We believe that we need to be harder on ourselves.  We, obviously, can’t be trusted on the same street with food, so we need to restrict ourselves.  We need to be angry at, distrusting of and rude towards ourselves.

In reality this approach does not work.  It actually sets us up for failure.  We can only tolerate deprivation so long and then we rebel and break ourselves out of this self-imposed prison. We immediately run to the nearest fattening food and start shoveling it in before the prison guard finds us and throws us back into prison.

What works?  Mindfulness works.  Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose to what is happening in our mind and body with an attitude of inquisitiveness, while letting go of judgment.

We might thoughtfully look at our history with food.  Perhaps we see that overeating has been the best way we have found to deal with uncomfortable feelings.  Perhaps it has kept us company when we were lonely or bored.

We try a new approach which involves offering ourselves kindness.  Research has shown recently that self-kindness is not the same as self-indulgence.  It is being able to set appropriate boundaries with ourselves when it comes to food because we care about our own well-being and health.

Many overeaters use food to calm themselves.  For whatever reasons, it is their default behavior when anxiety takes them over.

Beginning to slow down and offer themselves kindness and compassion rather than a cupcake, helps to self-soothe by creating inner calm.  This comes as a result of feeling cared for, listened to, safe and connected which leads to being emotionally relaxed.  When relaxed in this way, a calm internal environment is created.  In this open space, wise and creative food choices become obvious.