In the Flow with Healing Waters
Hungry?..or is it something else?
Holidays can be stressful. Baking, traveling, shopping, financial stress, family dynamics, it can be overwhelming. We don’t feel like we have time to breathe or fill our own bucket.
All of this puts our immune system in a compromised position. According to the American Psychological Association, stress can reduce the number of natural killer cells or lymphocytes in the body, which are needed to fight viruses. This puts us at increased risk for colds and flu. Great! Being sick just adds to the stress. It feels like a never-ending circle.
We all have different ways of coping, some healthy, some not so much. Aunt B says something snarky about your mashed potatoes, what do you do? Some of us gulp our holiday wine, or shove a piece of pie in our mouth to avoid swearing at our beloved Aunt. Interestingly enough, “eating our feelings” is a very common response. Strangely, there are other reasons for this other than not blowing up the family holiday. There are reward circuits that are activated in the brain when we eat. If we did not eat, we wouldn’t survive. These are in place to ensure our survival. Our brains reward us for it, by releasing pleasure chemicals — in the same way as drugs and alcohol, experts say.
Scientists studying that good feeling after eating call it ingestion analgesia, literally pain relief from eating. Now, that’s not an excuse to stuff those feelings, but it does give us understanding to why we go to food in stressful situations. It’s also a little programming. When you were a child and did well at something, did your family celebrate with an ice cream cone? Or when you were sad, someone gave you a cookie to cheer you up? All of this leads to us “eating our feelings.” So what do we do instead? Allow yourself space to feel what’s happening. Practice mindful eating. Ask yourself, am I hungry, how am I feeling? Is this going to nourish my body? If the emotional upset is too much, take a break, drink a glass of water. Just acknowledge and feel the feeling without judgment and release it. I know, sounds too easy, but it’s only as difficult as you allow it to be. Meditate, or talk to someone. This is important because when we eat those feelings, we are essentially stuffing them. This will cause later symptoms and disease. Most importantly, honor yourself and your needs, build your immune system and try not to sweat the small stuff. By the way, most of it is small stuff. Holiday Blessings to you and yours!
In the Flow,