If I’m being completely honest, I’ve been struggling the last few months with a great deal of stress and stress management.
Out of all the pieces of the fitness puzzle, stress management is my weakest…so it probably makes sense that I spent so much of my adult life eating my emotions.
Nothing like a quick fix, right?!?
Our landlord informed us at the end of September that she needed us to move out so her single son, who just finished university, could move in.
We’d been in our house and town for 6 ½ years, and it was the only home my kids had really known (Taylor is 10 and Dempsey is 7). We’re pretty rooted in the community, so staying in our town was been a priority, but it wasn’t easy at all to find a new home for a family our size just a few weeks before the holidays.
The house hunt took almost 2 months to turn up something that would work well for us, and we found an amazing house—only to run into a few bureaucratic hangups in the process.
It’s been a lot to deal with–the uncertainty, the move the week before Christmas, having family visit from the US right in the middle of all the chaos, the unpacking and readjusting to a new home and new neighborhood.
I’m telling you all this because throughout the entire ordeal, I put my own best advice and practices to use:
- getting in the small workouts when the main one/regularly planned one doesn’t happen,
- taking moments to appreciate the small pieces of joy in each day,
- strategizing on Sundays to keep on track with both my kids’ needs, work responsibilities, doctor’s appointments, vet appointments, and all the usual household stuff in order
- writing in my gratitude journal every morning and night
But one of the most useful practices that’s gotten LOTS of use is my SNAP technique—which I’m sharing with you!
SNAP is my way of interrupting impulse behaviors and redirecting my energy towards the positive and productive.
SNAP stands for:
S — STOP
N — Notice
A — Ask
P — Pick and Proceed
STOP: Stop means just that; stop right where you are, stop what you’re doing, interrupt the behavior you’re engaging in/about to engage in.
Stop and pause and breathe.
NOTICE: Notice how you’re feeling.
Notice the feeling of your breath—is it rapid and shallow (only filling your lungs), or is it slow, deep and calming?
Notice the feeling in your muscles—are they tense and rigid, or soft and relaxed?
Notice your posture—are your shoulders ‘up in your ears,’ or are they sitting in a lower, relaxed position. Is your chest open, or are your shoulders rounded forward?
Notice the feeling in your true stomach: are you feeling true hunger cues? Is your stomach upset? Is it full or is it empty?
Notice your mood. Are you happy, sad, stressed, lonely, angry, relaxed or bored?
ASK: Ask “What do I really need right now?”
Do you really need something to eat?
If I’m not truly physically hungry, then what is it I’m hungry for?
Do I need a break or a time-out?
Do I need to talk?
Do I need to get some stress out?
Do I need to stop and think for minute?
PICK and PROCEED: Pick what course of action you’re going to take to meet your need, and Proceed.
Consciously, purposefully pick what you’re going to do next, then do it.
It doesn’t have to be ‘perfect,’ it just needs to be intentional.
–>The point is to get ourselves into the habit of being self-aware, of interrupting old, unhelpful behavior patterns and tendencies, and to put us back in our own power.
–>The point is to put us back in the position of being the pitcher, not the batter—of choosing the direction of our lives rather than just responding to what happens around us.
There have been plenty of times lately I’ll find myself wandering mindlessly back into the kitchen, looking for something…a treat, a munchie, some chocolate, some wine…and I then as I reach for a cupboard or shelf, I’ll think ‘Oh, SNAP!’
I think: what am I feeling right now? I notice my physical sensations. I notice my mood.
I ask: what am I really hungry for right now? I find an answer (it’s almost always not food).
I pick what action to take next, and I go with it.
I’ll be 100% candid here: The ASK part is the hardest, especially for us women who are supposed to take care of so many things and people ahead of ourselves.
We are so often expected to be selfless and serving the needs of others, and sometimes we’re conditioned to believe that when we serve our own needs it’s selfish.
So we often turn to other means of soothing ourselves—like turning to food—as a way of dealing with some feelings or needs.
Naming what we really need when we’re reflexively conditioned to turn to food can be a new and unfamiliar practice.
It can take some extra ‘brain sweat’ at first—the answer to “What am I really hungry for?” may not be ‘on the tip of your tongue.’ It might take a some ‘turning inwards’ to explore your feelings, which can also take time and practice.
It might bring up some difficult feelings.
THESE FEELINGS ARE ALL NORMAL AND OKAY PARTS OF THE PROCESS.
But it may be a little scary at first, and you may be uncomfortable with the feelings that come up. I know I am from time-to-time.
I encourage you to be brave, to practice self-compassion and set aside self-judgment.
We are all works in process, and the fact that you’re even reading this shows that you are invested in the process of becoming your best you—that you are committed, brave, and capable of doing the hard work when it’s needed.
What I’ve found is the more I practice ‘asking,’ the better I get at it. The answers come more easily and quickly as my self-awareness improves.
Like riding a bike, the more you do it, the better you get at it and the more automatic the activity becomes.
After I ASK, I pick. Sometimes I walk away, sometimes I drink a glass of water, sometimes I’ll write down my thoughts/feelings, sometimes I’ll call my dad or a good friend to talk out what’s bugging me.
And sometimes, if it’s a case of me trying to avoid doing something tedious or unpleasant, I’ll just go tackle that task and get it over with.
Lately, I’ve been putting my legs up the wall and practicing crocodile breathing if I can’t get outside for a walk, because I know what I’m hungry for or needing is resolution to our housing crisis—and that’s not going to be found through eating or drinking anything.
So I do what I can to give myself a little more peace, and ‘Legs Up the Wall’ is a quick and easy go-to.
But that choice of calming method starts with “Oh, SNAP.”
If you’re finding yourself mindlessly or habitually heading for the kitchen or a certain aisle in the grocery store, try using the SNAP technique to break your pattern:
PICK and PROCEED
And tell me how it works for you!
SNAP is just one of the techniques we use in The Nourished Mind coaching program to learn a healthier way of thinking about food and eating, and to cope with issues like stress-eating and emotional eating.
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#TheNourishedMind: The last diet you’ll ever need to go on.