A Guest Post from a friend: Meryl Hershey Beck who wrote the Amazon best seller, Stop Eating Your Heart Out: The 21-Day Program to Free Yourself from Emotional Eating which tells her story of Binge Eating Disorder and focuses on the tools she used for recovery. Receive her free eBook by going to StopEatingYourHeartOut.com
As a new great grandmother (yes, really!), I am reminded how important it is for babies and children to find ways to soothe themselves. It is wonderful when the caregivers are there to soothe the child, but it is also important for the little ones to find ways to comfort themselves. Sometimes they turn to a stuffed animal or their cozy blanket; other times it is thumb or finger sucking.
When I was a young child I had a “baba” – my favorite blanket that, after many years, was just a piece of very worn fabric – in order to fall asleep. Every night, the baba was in my hand so that I could let go and allow sleep to come. One day, however, when I was probably in kindergarten, I decided I needed to be a “big girl” and throw away my baba. I took the first small step and threw it down the clothes chute (it took our dirty clothes from the second floor down to the basement where they piled up to be washed). I got into bed…but I couldn’t get comfortable and I couldn’t fall asleep. I marched myself down to the basement and retrieved my beloved baba … and then easily zonked out.
For compulsive overeaters, binge eaters, emotional eaters, and grazers, food has taken the place of the baba – it is used for calming down and soothing away challenging feelings. The tissue became my self-soother and epitomizes the importance of having a replacement when we set our intent to give up food as our primary soother. “Many eating problems aren’t really about food. They are about self-soothing…If you eliminate eating as your main source of comfort, you have to find something helpful to put in its place.” ~Susan Albers
When we use something (food, alcohol, etc.) to soothe ourselves, what happens when we cut it out of our lives? All those uncomfortable feelings that we were running from show up in full force. Unless we have found an alternative, we need to sit with the challenging feelings knowing that “this too shall pass.”
Matthew Tull, PhD wrote “Coping With Stress Using Self-Soothing Skills” (http://ptsd.about.com/od/selfhelp/a/selfsoothe.htm) and suggested that we choose self-soothing coping strategies that involve our senses. And then, when engaged in a self-soothing activity, it is important to be totally present with the experience, using all your senses to really enjoy it. Some examples are:
- Taking a bubble bath
- Getting a massage
- Feeling the warmth of the sun
- Curling up with your favorite blanket
- Playing with your pet
- Sipping herbal tea
- Eating healthy food
- Smelling flowers
- Using your favorite essential oils
- Lighting a scented candle
- Deeply breathing in fresh air
- Reading a good book
- Looking at pictures of loved ones
- Looking at pictures of a past vacation or places that you would like to visit
- Watching the clouds
- Listening to relaxing music
- Singing to yourself
- Saying positive statements to yourself or self-encouragement
- Playing a musical instrument
In addition, you could: dance, hum, give yourself a hand or foot massage, watch YouTube videos, and even do Tapping!
If you are intent on transforming your emotional eating, binge eating, and compulsive overeating, make your own list of self-soothers.
When you seek comfort, what self-soother do you choose for yourself? Love & Blessings,