Health and the Workplace: 3 Ways to Avoid Stress Eating at Work
Don't let office stress derail your health and fitness goals. Loop21's 4-part "Health and the Workplace" series will keep you in shape while you're in the office.
When the e-mails won’t stop coming, the phone won’t stop ringing, and the instant message pop-ups keep popping up, a carton of ice cream (and perhaps a bag or two of chips) may seem like the logical way to handle your problems. But using junk food to cope with a hectic work schedule won’t make those deadlines disappear. In fact, negative reactions to work stress can actually bring more stress (and extra weight) into your life.
Here are a few ways that you can cope with work stress without packing on the pounds.
Exercise: Putting in long hours at the office makes it all too easy to skip out on the gym. “I don’t get to the gym nearly as much as I’d like,” says Scott Rowden, a film editor in Hollywood, Calif., who routinely works 12-14 hour days, plus weekends. “There just aren’t enough hours in the day, and I’ve had to cancel on my personal trainer more often then I’d like to admit.” To circumnavigate the problem, Rowden works out wherever and whenever he can, whether it’s a few games of tennis on the weekends or a series of crunches, push-ups, and sit-ups before bed. “If I allow my job to prevent me from working out, I’ll just gain weight, which will make me more stressed out. So I make time to workout when I can,” says Rowden.
Talk it Out: Talking to someone about your work situation can help reduce instances of stress eating as well. Friends and family might be your logical go-to resource, but seeking professional help might also be a good option. “Work-related stress ranks very high in overall life dissatisfaction,” says Yaritza Zayas, marriage and family therapist. “If [you] choose to attend therapy [you] can learn management strategies, coping skills, and new behavioral interventions.”
Breathe: Luckily, it turns out that coping with work stress can be as easy as taking a breath. “Deep breathing helps relax the mind and calm the brain down,” says Justine Thorner, a board certified health coach and yoga instructor. “When we’re stressed our blood pressure rises and our hearts beat faster. By breathing deeply we can reverse these [situations].” Thorner recommends trying the 7-7-7-7 breathing technique. Breathe in for seven seconds, hold the breath for seven seconds, breath out for seven seconds, and hold at the bottom of the exhale for seven seconds. Perform this technique at least three times. This exercise can be performed right at your desk and will instantly take the edge off your 9-5 worries.
How do you relieve work stress?
Dana Robinson is the Lead Producer & Contributor, Health/Fitness Channel for Loop21.com.