We all feel anxious at one time or another and many times our jobs contribute to, or even increase, our anxiety levels. Some reasons for having high levels of workplace anxiety can include additional responsibilities being given to us at work, lack of job satisfaction, worries about the recession, lack of a feeling of job security…and the list goes on. While a little stress in our lives is a normal thing, excessive stress and anxiety can cause health issues and can hinder our job performance.
Here are a few things that I do throughout the day to break the anxiety, depression, and overeating cycle. How can we better manage our workplace stress and our eating habits in order to become healthier in both mind and body? There are several steps we can take to help reduce workplace stress that will also help to curb our desire to numb ourselves through comfort eating.
Help control your stress levels by performing the following actions during your work day:
Take a breather. Get up from your station, cube or where ever you are at and walk. If you are a cube rat like myself and can get up whenever you want, take a lap around your area or go outside. If you do not have that much freedom, then go to the bathroom, water cooler, or find a reason to walk to the copier or whatever apparatus you can walk to and just walk quickly and get your heart pumping. When you move swiftly at work, or with exercise, it your body releases serotonin in your brain and helps to make you feel more relaxed and happy.
Perform stretching and meditation exercises in the morning before you go to work. Meditation can help reduce stress levels, calm ones nerves, and can help you get prepared for the workday ahead. Stretching exercises can also help by getting your body ready to keep up the hectic pace at work, and can also help relax the body and mind.
Accept that no one is perfect, and that your boss does not expect perfection—he just expects your best efforts. Learning and growing from your mistakes is all that you can do. Set personal goals and standards, and take pride in yourself when you meet or exceed those goals.
Reduce or eliminate your caffeine intake. Caffeine gives you a burst of energy, but excessive amounts of caffeine can contribute to feelings of anxiety and stress. I use those drink mixes for your water that give you a little caffeine and B vitamins. So see, I didn’t completely eliminate caffeine, I just cut down. Everything doesn’t always have to happen at once. Baby steps!
Talk to a co-worker or supervisor when you feel overwhelmed or stressed. Oftentimes just vocalizing our stressors and fears helps to reduce the level of stress we are feeling. “Getting it off your chest” is a good way to calm ourselves down and refocus our minds.
Laugh! They say that laughter is the best medicine for the soul. Exchange funny stories with a co-worker or watch a funny video to relieve tension and reduce stress.
All of these actions are things I do on a daily basis to help with stresses from work and it is what has worked for me for the last 11 years as I have worked in the high stress level of the corporate world. I don’t always do them all perfectly, nor do I perform every action every day, but I have found that just doing some of the above named actions will help give you that push you need to get through the day. Try just doing one of these during your work day and see what works for you.
Please let me know if there are other things that you do to help relieve stress and anxiety at work or if any of these tips I have used helps in any way.
Excessive anxiety can lead to skipping regular meals, snacking from the vending machines at work, and comfort eating, all of which can lead to weight gain.
It’s a vicious cycle—you get stressed, you eat a whole bag of Doritos—or two—you start to put on weight because you don’t feel like exercising, you get more stressed because you are getting fat, you eat some more, etc. I know, because I am currently in this situation. I am a chronic comfort food eater. Food makes me feel safe, and it calms my troubled emotions. That is, until I realize that I’ve eaten three Snicker’s bars, four slices of pizza, a slice of cake, and two large glasses of soda. Then, I panic and start chastising myself for eating so much—which makes me feel more anxious and depressed. Then all I want to do is curl up in a ball and sleep for 14 hours.
Have you noticed that I didn’t mention exercising? That is because I didn’t exercise—I loathed the concept of having to run and sweat and hurt in order to lose weight. That is why I became an unhealthy, obese 40-something woman. I have begun to exercise a little more regularly, and I have been somewhat surprised to find that when I do exercise, I feel much better emotionally. I believe it is because exercise releases endorphins that make you feel better. I know that I do feel much better after a good workout and I have lost a few pounds to boot!
Help control your eating habits by following these steps:
Do not skip Meals: When you skip meals, your body thinks there is a food shortage, and begins to store fat instead of burn it. Always eat a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner and have healthy snacks between meals to keep your body in the “burn fat” mode.
Drink Plenty of Water: Dehydration can often times be mistaken for hunger. That is why it is important to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Drinking at least 64 oz. of water a day helps reduce hunger cravings, improves the quality of your skin, and helps flush the toxins from your body. Drinking a glass of water before each meal can also help reduce the amount of food you eat, and it is also an easy way to control food intake.
Eat Breakfast: Starting your day with a healthy breakfast helps provide the fuel your body needs to jumpstart your metabolism and allow you to work at your peak level. Eating breakfast also helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable, and prevents you from becoming so hungry that you cannot concentrate at work and also prevents you from overeating at lunchtime as well.
Avoid the vending machines: Bringing healthy snacks from home will help you ignore the call of the vending machine when you get hungry. Eating a healthy snack of a piece of fruit, yogurt, or carrots between breakfast and lunch will help you keep your blood sugar at normal levels and will reduce hunger pangs as well.
Eat a healthy lunch and dinner: Taking time out to eat lunch and dinner will keep your metabolism going, and will keep your body from thinking it is starving.
MOVE: Although the word “exercise” is distasteful to some, adding a little movement into your daily routine will help your body burn calories and will actually give you more energy as well. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to a coworker’s office instead of emailing or calling them, or even walking around the perimeter of your workplace parking lot will get your circulation going, increase your heart rate, and help burn calories that would otherwise be stored as fat.
Why is it so hard to get healthy when healthy looks this good?
Why is it so hard to lose weight and eat healthy? We all have good reasons for needing to get healthier and lose weight, but it is always hard to stick to a diet or exercise plan? We blame many things–work, lack of time, body aches and pains, lack of money, etc. But I believe the real reason is fear. Fear of going to the gym and exposing ourselves to possible stares from other people, fear of not being able to stick to it, fear of not doing the exercises correctly. Fear of putting ourselves out there for judgment. Fear of failing.
I know I am scared to begin. I am afraid that I will fail, or have a heart attack. I am afraid of letting my partner down. But, that does not mean I am not going to give this my best attempt. I know I may stumble along the way, and make mistakes, but I know that for my own sake, I HAVE to get healthier. I HAVE to lose weight. I HAVE to eliminate or reduce some of my current medical problems. And, I know that the only way to do any of this is to eat better, healthier meals and get some exercise. So with this in mind, I am hoping to share some of the healthy recipes that we find, and also some tips for buying healthier foods on a tight budget. I have discovered that changing one or two things initially can help one feel better and get the most for their money. Please stay tuned because in the next few days Mel and I both will be sharing those tips to get started.
My name is Nae, and….I am fat….morbidly obese, actually. I am 44 years old, stand 5’ 2” and I weigh 281.4 lbs. Oh, and did I mention that I am lazy? I haven’t always been overweight. In high school, I weighed 110 lbs. soaking wet, and was very active.
Since graduating from high school, I have struggled with my weight on and off. I am currently the heaviest I have ever been, and am thoroughly disgusted with myself. I have health issues such as high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, anxiety, and a seizure disorder. I have problems with my joints, and calcium spurs in my feet. In other words, I’m a hot mess. I am a huge couch potato who loves to play video games and watch TV. And eat. I have a wonderful spouse who is also overweight and is diabetic, lactose intolerant, and has gastroparesis and anxiety issues. My spouse had lost over 100 lbs., but the stresses of work and some family crises has caused her to gain back around 62 lbs. of that weight. We both want to change our lives and become healthier individuals. It is just hard to get the momentum going to make that change.
But, I think I am ready. And, I think she is too. I will try to record our journey here in order to help others who are going through similar issues find the encouragement and courage to make the changes necessary for a healthier lifestyle.