No More Using Stress as an Excuse!
Last week we touched on one of the mind-body connections that will really help you both before and after any bariatric surgery or weight-loss procedure that you and your doctor select as best for you: we talked about the power of creative visualisation, of seeing yourself in your new, healthy body.
One of the great contributors to weight gain is stress. We feel stress, we eat, and it alleviates the stress-for a few minutes, that is. We worry about feeling stress, and we eat, and it may push it away for a little while. But you’ll probably agree that as a long-term strategy for dealing with stress, overeating is a failure.
So how else can you handle stress?
As you probably know, words and thoughts are powerful. Imagine a string of positive thoughts: yes! I can do this! I feel great! I love this! And now imagine their darker counterparts: no! It’s too hard! I’m such an idiot! I hate this! Take a moment and observe how you felt when you said the first string of words . and then how you felt vis-à-vis the second. Different feelings altogether! Negative words and thoughts deplete your energy; positive ones, on the other hand, energise you.
Let’s get back to the notion of stress for a moment. It’s not difficult to see that the positive thoughts can lighten the load of stress, while the negative ones make it heavier. How often do you have negative thoughts in response to stress?
There’s another creative visualisation exercise that might be helpful here. Sit down or lie down in a quiet space, close your eyes, breathe deeply. Now imagine yourself in a stressful situation. Where in your body are you feeling the stress? What is your brain doing? Are you breathing more quickly? A first response to stress is ingrained in us as fight or flight: which one is your choice? Are you feeling a need for food?
Now take a moment and breathe deeply. Step back from feeling that stress, and look at the stressful situation again. What can you do differently to change your body’s responses to this stress? Breathe slowly and deeply, and create a new image, an image of you dealing with the stress calmly and effectively. Feel the discomfort and then let go of it as you consider your options. Are there other ways of dealing with it? What is a possible positive outcome? Visualise yourself in control of the situation, making good decisions.
Try doing this exercise as often as you can. As you prepare for weight-loss surgery, you need to be able to think beyond it, to how you can experience stress and problems and not react to them in ways that aren’t working for you. Find new ways of responding through these visualisation exercises. If you keep doing that, you’ll find that after your weight-loss surgery you’re better equipped to make decisions that are healthy and helpful rather than unhealthy and destructive.
Why not start today?