7 Ways To Self-Soothe Without Food

7 Ways To Self-Soothe Without Food

Filed Under: Emotional Eating

18 August 2023 | Written by Xenia Ayiotis

We all go through challenging moments when we need to soothe ourselves. If you have a history of dieting and food restriction, chances are that you will soothe with food. After a stressful day, you are wired and tired and reach for a bag of chips as a balm for your nervous system. That is perfectly okay and not to be judged. Emotional eating is a coping tool, not a coping failure. If you are looking for alternative coping methods, it’s useful to have a toolkit to comfort yourself when you are feeling stressed or anxious. Having techniques that can regulate our emotions to provide a sense of ease,  help to improve our overall sense of well-being.

Here are 7 ways to self-soothe without food:

1. Mindful Breathing

Breathing is a simple yet effective technique that activates the body’s relaxation response. Box breathing can be done anywhere, at your desk or in your car. When you are feeling stressed, take a moment to focus on your breath and visualize a box.

Inhale for 4 seconds.
Hold for 4 seconds.
Exhale for 4 seconds
Relax for 4 seconds.
Repeat 4 times.

2. Soothing Touch

Touch releases Oxytocin, a love hormone that helps balance the nervous system. Give yourself a gentle hug by wrapping your arms around yourself and holding onto the opposite arm. You can also put both hands on your heart or gently on your cheeks.

3. Grounding Technique

When anxiety strikes, ground yourself in the present moment using the 5-4-3-2-1 method. Look around and name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This exercise helps anchor your awareness to the present and disrupts the cycle of anxious thoughts.

4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This technique involves systematically tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups in your body. Start with your toes and work your way up to your head, focusing on the sensation of tension and then the relief as you release it. This method can help you become more attuned to bodily sensations and reduce overall muscle tension, which often accompanies stress.

5. Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing your attention on the present moment without judgement. By practicing mindfulness, you can observe your thoughts and feelings without getting overwhelmed by them. By practicing mindfulness regularly, you can develop a greater awareness of your mental and emotional states. This heightened awareness can help you manage stress and anxiety more effectively. Regular mindfulness meditation, even if only done for 10 minutes has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve overall well-being.

6. Barefoot Walking

Scientifically proven to enhance both physical and mental health, walking barefoot has numerous benefits. It improves sleep, reduces pain, increases antioxidant intake, and regulates the nervous system. Walking barefoot allows you to focus on the world around you, promoting relaxation for your body and mind. Spend a few minutes walking barefoot in your backyard or around your home, enjoying the calming experience.

7. Creative Outlets

Engaging in creative activities, such as playing with clay, painting, playing a musical instrument, humming or singing, doing crafts, or cooking, are grounding. When doing creative activities, it’s useful to let go of the outcome and simply focus on the process (for the perfectionists out there). These activities also promote a state of flow, where you become fully absorbed in the present moment.

Remember that everyone is unique, and not every technique will work the same way for every person. It’s essential to explore these techniques and find what resonates best with you. Finding the right combination of techniques may take some trial and error, so be patient with yourself as you explore what works for you. By prioritising self-care and adopting these techniques, you can build a strong foundation for navigating difficult moments.

Wishing you peace,

✨ Tired of fighting food and yourself? Looking for a different approach? Book a free 30-minute mini session and let’s chat about how I can help you.

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“I reached out to Xenia because 2021 started on a tumultuous note for me. Between deaths, businesses suffering, hospitalizations, and job losses in our personal circle, I felt depleted and found myself being available for everyone but myself. Then I was hit with an unexpected health diagnosis, which was the last straw as it meant giving up “healthy foods” and workouts that I leaned on for my well-being and stability. Despite working in wellness (Yes, coaches and healers are vulnerable too!), I found myself reaching out to desserts for comfort. I like to live a life of permissions (not labels or deprivation leading to bingeing), so I wanted to work with someone who approached healing from a place of mindful compassion. I didn’t want to be my own client. Xenia was great in reminding me to be kind to myself. Working with her, brought me peace and helped shift my mindset. I love how desserts and I look at each other now.”

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