Life gets so hectic that we sometimes feel we can’t possibly keep up with everything. If we don’t keep it all straight then who will? When I get caught up in these thoughts I am bound to grab handfuls of comfort food before even realizing it. I am soothing myself to make up for overdoing it. If I were an alcoholic then it would be a drink “to take the edge off.”
When I was in my early 20s and trying to make sense of the obsessive behavior I had toward food, I attended Overeaters Anonymous. It is the same 12 step program that Alcoholics Anonymous is founded on as the root of all addiction is basically the same. A substance or damaging behavior is used to cope with life and leads to devastating results. I learned too many essential life skills to count from the wonderful people I met in that group. One of their catch phrases is H.A.L.T which means don’t let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. This means we must care for ourselves. We have to make it second nature to take care of our own needs as we would for a child or other loved one. The twelve step program taught me to find activities that are a healthy alternative to binging such as (a bit cliche, I know) take a bubble bath, go for a walk or polish my nails. Yes, these things are good but when life is really slamming into you there usually isn’t the opportunity for a bubble bath break. This leads me to the most profound lesson I’ve learned yet.
For those of you fortunate enough to have discovered and read Eckhart Tolle’s books or followed his online lessons on Oprah.com broadcast via Skype, then you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t then that’s not a problem as it is sooo simple. Whenever you begin to feel overwhelmed or anxious then take your focus off of what is going on around you and focus on your breath. Become aware of only your self. Are your muscles tense? Has your breathing been shallow? You’ll be surprised at the state you find yourself in. Do this for 30 seconds or 2 minutes, as long as it takes to become relaxed, calm and aware. You can close your eyes or gaze at a certain object. It’s okay to observe the sounds and activity around you but don’t react to it. Your only concern for that moment is you. Breathe deeply and slowly while relaxing all your muscles. The more fully you give yourself to this process the more everything will change. Your cravings will vanish and the situation you thought was so bad a few minutes before will seem much more manageable. Or you’ll have new insight on how to handle what was so troubling.
As you get used to this method of dealing with stress, you’ll look forward to the wonderful sense of peace it can bring you. And that, my friend, is even better than a bubble bath.