Stress Eating Might Mean It Is Time To Speak To A Therapist

The holidays are supposed to be relaxing – yeah, right!

stress-eatingillustration credit: shutterstock

Do you find yourself stress eating over the holidays?

During the holidays, stressors tend to pile up — and stress eating can sneak up on you. The season brings busy schedules, awkward social engagements, financial strain, family conflicts and grief for those who’ve lost loved ones. No matter what the source of your stress, talking to a professional can help.

I find that people often have high expectations of what the season is supposed to look like, which can set them up for disappointment when things don’t go as planned. We tend to find ways to cope with our problems (some people may withdraw from social situations, while others will turn to alcohol or food), but talk therapy offers a positive coping mechanism that allows you to vent or even learn new strategies to deal with stressors. Are your holiday expectations stressing you out? Here’s what to do.

What can you do?

Digital-based therapy systems, such as Talkspace, are a great way to get started because the counselling they offer is inexpensive (starting at $32 USD a week) and you can reach out via text, audio message or video call anytime, anywhere. I’ve received calls from people who are at a party and sneak into the bathroom for a quick therapy session because they just need to talk.

There are many ways that people benefit from therapy — and not just for stress eating.

Most people report a sense of relief from just getting out what they’re feeling, while others are interested in the tools we recommend, like slowly counting to 10 during times of stress or doing a daily meditation. For those who prefer to text what they’re going through, the process of writing out their thoughts can be healing, like writing in a journal. They can later look back on what they wrote, appreciate how far they’ve come and learn from those thought patterns.

I practise cognitive behavioural therapy, which is all about shifting your thoughts. Your thoughts directly influence how you feel and act (for example, if you think your relatives look down on you, you may feel self-conscious and be more apt to withdraw at family gatherings). It’s my job to teach you how to recognize and replace those thoughts so that you can control how you feel and begin to build more positive relationships with yourself and those around you.

It can be challenging to seek help from people in your life when you’re going through a hard time, especially at the busiest time of year. But therapists are always there to listen non-judgmentally and help you see your situation from a new perspective. Next, find out how to better manage your anxiety triggers.

Kendra Simpson is a therapist at Talkspace, a licensed clinical social worker and an independent substance-abuse counsellor.

Originally Published in Best Health Canada