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Friday, 27 July 2012

Job stress = munchies!

So it's been a while since I posted about emotional eating triggers... so here it is!

One thing which has been playing on my mind recently is job stress. Now, I've got a great job - I love the people, it's a great company and there's a lot of opportunities. But, with all that can come a wee bit of stress. 
Now, today I have been working from home because I'm ill, but I have found myself getting a bit worked into a tizzy. I've had my job for two years and I'm moving up to the next position (promotion!) Great! Yay!  It's so good because I've been wanting this for aaages. BUT now...eep... I have a lot to learn about this new position. Now I've already been doing bits of it, but this is the real deal now. 

I'm finding myself not knowing how to do certain things, and it's freaking me out a bit. I like to be in control of things, and being in a new role means there's obviously going to be shit I need to learn. 

So... why would this scenario make me want to eat? Well, Rodger Gould says that when we feel powerless in some way, we want to eat. We either feel powerless from a situation we are expecting to change (but can't so head for the doughnuts to make ourselves feel better), or we feel powerless (when we actually aren't powerless but just think we are, so head to the doughnuts anyway) Phew. Complex? Sounds it, but really is quite simple:

1. Either a situation is frustrating you, and you are expecting something which just isn't possible (i.e in my case I'm expecting myself in this situation to know everything about my new role when I just can't possibly yet) which, in turn leads us to eat.

2. And/or your self-doubts are getting in the way (that would be the part where you think you are powerless because you automatically assume you are the thing which is wrong, awful, disappointing etc) so in this case, my self doubts are also raised here by me saying I'm going to be crap at this job! Panic! Panic! Panic!

So... you have to say woah woah woah to yourself right now. 

The most important thing when you are thinking in this way is to BE REALISTIC. I shan't go into the details here about why we think negatively like this, but suffice to say, that if you are wanting to eat, like me, chances are you are feeling powerless because you either want to change something and can't, or powerless because you think you should be doing better in some way and are heaping a load of self blame onto yourself.

1. So, if you are frustrated, ask yourself if you have a realistic expectation of this situation which is making you want to munch?
Well, my frustration (i.e desire to eat) is coming because I am thinking I shouldn't have to learn anything at all and be fabulous straight away. Realistic? Non. Of course not. So if you sit yourself down and actually dialogue with yourself on this one, you'll probably find you're expecting everything to all fall into place straight away - bound to set us up for disappointment, right?? 

2. Self doubts - here, my self doubts would be me panicking saying something like "Oh my god oh my god I'm going to fail at this job, I can't do it, I'm going to be terrible." So... again, BE REALISTIC. Is it really that bad? Am I really that bad? Have I done okay at my previous jobs/degree/pursuits? Erm... maybe. 

It's all about understanding why we want to emotionally eat, then finding out what is going on in our heads to make us feel powerless. 
Then we need to either accept a more realistic view of a situation (i.e we can't change it, therefore we are challenged to accept that we can still get on with life and live with it) or we need a less self - abusive, kinder way of talking to ourselves so we don't beat ourselves up every time we encounter any obstacle and end up soothing with Nutella brownies (so again, we are challenged to think positively, and take action in that direction instead).

Let me show you:

So, Abby is stressed out from work. In her mind she is thinking all this stress is because she is new to her role, and is finding it difficult because it is unfamiliar. She expects herself to perform perfectly straight away, and if she doesn't know it all then it must mean she is a failure, awful and will never be able to do the job. She gets so overwhelmed with not only the stress, but now all her internal criticism that she runs to the fridge and eats a big slice of cake. 

Now, if Abby had stopped herself, realised a more realistic viewpoint of the situation it wouldn't have felt so terrible- where the only answer was cake. Instead she could say something such as - "you know what, this job is really stressing me out because it's a step up. Great! I'm stepping up, but I'm definitely going to need a bit of help here from more senior people as of course I can't possibly know it all now..."  

See the difference? The first scenario leaves you feeling helpless, alone and inferior, but the second option leads you to appreciate you need help, be kind to yourself about it, and to actually seek help. This first option is a safety seeking emotion-oriented coping strategy, whereas the second is action/task based coping. We always want the task based one. This not only reduces emotional eating, but it also improves your entire mental well-being (think about it, if you are getting help and looking things in a more realistic light, most things which seemed hopeless before suddenly seem a shit load better). 

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