After documenting what sets off our stress eating, we need to formulate a plan on what to do when our anxiety rises.
That means it’s time to build…a Stress Response Menu!
Our Stress Response Menu will be a list of actions or activities you can do to de-stress outside of eating.
Ideally, you’ll do them before an eating episode, but they can be done during or after the fact too.
In other words, if you only realized you were stress eating when your hand reaches the bottom of the Doritos bag, no problem, you can do your stress response activity right then.
The purpose of the Stress Response Menu is to reward yourself with a small moment of self-love, whenever your anxiety levels are too much.
Here are some ideas for activities to place on your Stress Response Menu:
- Close your eyes and take five deep breaths (Coach Justin’s go-to move)
- Drink a large glass of water
- Take a short walk
- Go listen to one of your favorite songs
- Do a quick stretching routine
- Write in your journal
- Play with your dog
- Shout at the sky
The more the activity from your Stress Response Menu can match your personal goals, the better.
In other words, if you’re trying to build muscle, some push-ups might be the perfect de-stresser.
Just make sure it’s something you won’t dread doing.
A combination of a “de-stressor” and a “reward.”
This is important, as Coach Justin mentions that many of his clients only reward themselves with food. The self-love they practice only takes place in the kitchen.
Our menu above will help us develop some more options, not solely based on food.
To make the most of your Stress Response Menu:
#1) Make the activities short and easy.
You should feel confident that you can do every item on your list. So avoid activities that will take longer than 10 minutes to complete.
Also, set yourself up for success by hacking your Batcave:
- If you’re going to journal when stressed, keep your diary open on your work desk.
- If you’re going to drink water before any emotional eating, keep your full glass near you.
- If you’re going to take a short walk, keep your kicks near the door.
Don’t set yourself up for failure by picking overly complicated or burdensome activities.
#2) Place your Stress Response Menu somewhere visible.
Once you make your list, print it out and place it in your kitchen or pantry (or wherever you typically stress eat).
You could also write out a couple of your favorite activities and attach them to your refrigerator.
If it’s right in front of you, it’ll be harder to ignore (however, it’s okay to ignore it from time to time, as we aren’t striving for perfection).
Just please don’t write it and then stick the list in the junk drawer that opens to another dimension.
You never can find anything in that drawer.
#3)Track your usage of the Stress Response Menu.
This will help us in two ways:
- First, by tracking your usage, you’ll start to feel better about using the SRM. You’ll see an accumulation of all the times you successfully deployed a stress response, helping you visualize the momentum you’re building.
- Second, the data will help you understand your patterns of emotional eating. Maybe five deep breaths steered you away from ice cream but the large glass of water did not. You can then use this information to update and revise your response plan.
For the first point, Coach Justin has his clients keep a “Jar of Awesome.”
Every time they have a small win in the day, like taking five deep breaths instead of chugging soda, they place a marble or small token in a jar. After a while, the jar will have a decent amount of marbles or “small wins” in it.
This will then stand as a visual reminder of all the progress being made, proof of their ongoing wins.