Get ready to Boost your mood with Activities That Have Nothing to do with Food or Eating!
We all do it — emotionally eat, that is!
Stress eating or eating for comfort is something I hear from clients in my group nutrition practice as well as in my online intuitive eating groups.
The holiday season in particular, can bring up a lot of complicated feelings around family, body image, and food. Some people find themselves reaching for food for comfort when uncomfortable feelings arise — and still, others might react by restricting food as a way of coping.
Here is the bottom line:
Emotional eating is not always problematic
or even something to avoid at all costs.
In fact, eating is an inherently emotional activity! But… if you find yourself reaching for food (or restricting food) each time you have a strong emotional reaction, it might be wise to learn some additional coping tools!
Our team of dietitians and Intuitive Eating Specialists have prepared a list of 20 suggestions for Emotional Wellness That Have Nothing to do with Food or Eating and you can read it all below. (We have a PDF you can print out as well).
20 Mood-Boosting Activities for Emotional Wellness That Have Nothing to do with Food or Eating!
Here are some alternative strategies for the upcoming holiday season that can help you manage the uncomfortable feelings you might experience. Whether you need them during the holidays, during a challenging time when you reach for food to deal with your emotions … remember there are other ways of coping.
The challenge is remembering these ways in the heat of the moment so this list can help you have them right there whenever you need a coping tool other than food.
The following are TWENTY suggestions for Emotional Wellness That Have Nothing to do with Food or Eating:
1. Call a good friend, family member, or someone who makes you feel safe and cared for and tell them you need comfort right now.
2. Read a list of your happy thoughts. Make a list of happy thoughts such as a favorite joke, a summary of your last vacation, kind words from a significant other or friend, a challenge you have overcome, something about your kids, etc. Print the list or save a copy on your phone so you can always access it wherever you are.
3. Create and read a gratitude list. Gratitude has powerful benefits – it boosts positivity and optimism, creates a positive mood, and makes you feel better. Prepare a list of all you are grateful for in the world! Include tangible and intangible, like your breath, the sun, love, music, etc.
4. Prepare and look at your happy picture. Find a picture that brings you happy feelings: family, friends, partner, pet, a place you visited, or anything that makes you feel good and elicits positive, pleasurable sensations. Have that picture with you always.
5. Prepare and do something you enjoy immensely. Make a list of things you enjoy doing; keep the list with you or on your phone for easy and quick access.
6. Perform a relaxation practice such as yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation.
7. Create a playlist of songs that uplift your mood and make you feel good, positive, happy, and content and listen to it when needed.
8. Read inspirational quotes. Look up inspirational quotes that speak to you, save the list to your phone, or print them on paper and have it with you.
9. Find a way to laugh, such as watching a comedy movie or funny videos online. Laughter has potent effects in boosting mood and elevating and protecting mental health.
10. Move your body! Walk, dance, lift weights, swim laps, do an aerobics video. Exercise is a powerful depression fighter and mood lifter. Experts report that depression benefits most from rhythmic exercises such as walking, aerobics, and dancing, where you move both your arms and legs. When you feel low, get up and move.
11. Add mindfulness to your movement. When you feel down or depressed because of obsessive or negative thoughts, add a mindfulness element to your exercise where you place all your mental focus on your movements, the sensations your body experiences as you move along with the rhythm of your breath.
12. Experience nature and especially the sunlight on your body. Did you know that spending time in nature actually triggers a physiological response that lowers stress levels? Being in nature also helps to restore our ability to concentrate and pay attention. Green spaces, please!
13. Consider everything you are looking forward to! Remind yourself of something to look forward to doing; prepare and read your list and keep it handy in print or on your phone.
14. Play with your pet. If you don’t have one, play with a friend’s, family member’s pet or watch pet videos on an electronic device.
15. Immerse yourself in your favorite hobby.
16. Cry. Crying helps release feelings and is very cleansing. Research has found that crying can boost mood.
17. Journal! Write and release; write down everything you are feeling at the moment. Don’t think, write. Then burn the paper or flush it down the toilet. (We have a journal you can buy and use for this.)
18. Pray. Even if you are not religious, prayers can calm the mind and reprogram the subconscious. Your prayers are highly personal, so you can pray to anything you want, even Mother nature. Ask for what you need, such as peace, calm, and hope.
19. Prepare and repeat a mantra or positive affirmations. A mantra is a word or sounds repeated to aid concentration in meditation OR a statement or slogan repeated frequently. Prepare for difficult moments by writing or typing out your mantra and keep it on your phone or in print, where you always have access to it. Your mantra is anything that makes you feel good or boosts your mood.
Examples of mantras include:
- I am more than my weight
- I am worthy of recovery
- My body deserves to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of its size
- My body radiates beauty and strength
- My body will carry me wherever I want to go
Affirmations will help you stay in the positive space to continue your journey and not stray off the path back to the dieting or restricting life you had before.
20. Learn to sit with your feelings. This is probably the most challenging, but the more you practice sitting with intense feelings, most people do notice a natural diminishing of their intensity.
There you have it… your very own list of 20 Mood-Boosting Activities for emotional wellness that have nothing to do with food or eating.
Be sure to take this list and prepare some of these items so you are ready when the moment hits, and you need one of these mood boosters.
We have a PDF of this list that you can print out and use as your reminder to be ready when you need those mood boosters. Click here to download the PDF.
Please let me know if you have any others to add to this list too!
We are big believers in journaling and using a planner to track what you are eating and how you are feeling. You can keep track of not only your food and feelings with my Intuitive Eating Wellness Planner and Journal and it also includes pages to help you track your health!
The journal is only $37 and includes several video lessons to help you develop this habit which can help you create even more habits so you can achieve your goals – your nutrition goals, food goals, your health goals and goals that matter to you. Grab your journal now!
Erica Leon is a Registered Dietitian and practices from a Health at Every Size (HAES®) lens. She is certified as an eating disorder specialist and is passionate about helping women at midlife, menopause and beyond to make peace with food and body image.
Erica is a highly sensitive nutrition therapist who takes the time to learn where you or your family are in the pursuit of health. Respectful of your individual needs and lifestyle, she will provide an honest assessment of whether or not you are a good fit to work together. Click here to schedule a 15-minute Discovery Call with Erica to let us know about your needs, and to see which of our Dietitians is the best fit for you!
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