I recently read an article that discussed the effects of anxiety and stress on eating habits. It is well known that some of us are emotional eaters. However, this article argued that men deal with being overwhelmed physically, while women turn to a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. While I am not so sure emotional eating is gender specific, the answer seems obvious–put down the spoon and go to the gym.
Easier said than done though..how many of us find ourselves mindlessly munching when things feel like they are out of our control? In order to break these habits, we have to learn to become aware of our emotions and recognize symptoms of anxiety early on.
The cerebral cortex elicits the release of dopamine, delivering a sense of pleasure and reward. This response focuses the attention of the individual so that the behavior is repeated.* In other words, these learned behaviors, that evolved to promote survival, have taken a turn for the worse. If we can trick our minds by changing the neurological reward to say exercise, then we can begin to change these learned habits.
Can’t get to the gym? Do five-ten minutes of lunges, squats, push ups, planks, and crunches. Go for a walk. Climb a few sets of stairs. If feel yourself starting to become overwhelmed with work, school, or a relationship, take a moment to assess the signals, and refocus.
*Discovery Channel- Neuroscience Psychology