Do you sometimes feel extra emotional or sensitive without any explanation? It may be a sudden trend you are noticing, or it may simply be an underlying part of your personality. Let’s look at why we might be feeling emotional and thus emotionally eating
Why do we have all these emotions?
Humans have emotions for a reason, they motivate us to act. Emotions are important, normal signals that help us identify internal or external needs. In the days of hunters and gatherers, emotions were used to protect ourselves from predators and the elements. Even though we have all moved on from those hunter-gatherer days, emotions are still helpful because they tell us what is good for us and what is bad for us.
Feeling emotional can be healthy
When we think about emotions as signals, it becomes clear that there’s no such thing as a “good” or “bad” emotion. All emotions are there to motivate us, give us information, and help us connect to one another and to ourselves. Some emotions may be indicating pain and therefore will be harder to deal with, but having the emotion is what tells you that something needs to shift or change.
What can push emotions into unhealthy territory is a lack of understanding about how to cope with them. It’s important to acknowledge and process your emotions so you can move past them rather than getting stuck. For example, acting impulsively in response to an emotion can be unhealthy, whereas taking time to think about your emotions before responding is often more productive and can help you move past them more quickly in the long term.
In other words, having a lot of emotions is healthy and normal. Lacking healthy ways to cope with your emotions is what can get you into trouble.
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Why you might be feeling emotional:
Not getting enough sleep can make it tough to identify your emotions or make your way through them in a balanced manner. Sleep deprivation can affect our emotional processing behaviour, furthermore in addition to irritability and mood disturbances, insomnia or sleep loss leads to repetitive thought processes and excessive worrying.
To improve your sleep quality and create a calmer place to land, avoid drinking caffeine late in the day, begin a bedtime routine, and turn off your devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
Research tells us that the foods we consume can impact your body’s ability to process and balance our neurochemicals. That means what you eat affects how you feel, which can in turn affects your overall physical and general wellbeing.
If you are feeling unduly emotional, consider what your diet has looked like for the past week. What can you change? The WeightMatters approach is one that includes all food groups helping us get the balance right.
Lack of exercise
Regular exercise has been proven to help with emotional regulation
by providing you with much-needed endorphins and a clearer mind. In WeightMatters I believe that exercise doesn’t have to be vigorous, but simply moving your body will help you sleep better and feel better, both physically and emotionally. Go connect with nature by having a stroll by the lake or into the woods, this type of activity is good for mind & body.
Stress, defined as emotional tension or mental strain, is all too common of a feeling for many of us. If you are leading a generally stressful life, this stress can cause you to be more emotional, irritable, or generally moody.
Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. Everyone expresses an amount of stress from time to time. Anything from everyday responsibilities like work and family to serious life events such as a new diagnosis, the death of a loved one, a pandemic can trigger stress. For immediate, short-term situations, stress can be beneficial to your health. It can help you cope with potentially serious situations. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones that increase your heart and breathing rates and ready your muscles to respond.
Yet if your stress response doesn’t stop firing, and these stress levels stay elevated far longer than is necessary for survival, it can take a toll on your health. Chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms and affect your overall wellbeing.
Symptoms of chronic stress include:
You’re sitting in traffic, late for an important meeting, watching the minutes tick away. Your hypothalamus, a tiny control tower in your brain, decides to send out the order: Send in the stress hormones! These stress hormones are the same ones that trigger your body’s “fight or flight” response. Your heart races, your breath quickens, and your muscles ready for action. This response was designed to protect your body in an emergency by preparing you to react quickly.
When the perceived fear is gone, the hypothalamus should tell all systems to go back to normal, if the stressor doesn’t go away, the response will continue. But when the stress response keeps firing, day after day, it could put your health at serious risk.
How to Break the Cycle of Stress and Weight Gain
- Make exercise a priority. Exercising is a critical component of stress reduction and weight management, why not give one of the WeightMatters activity challenges a go?
- Eat healthier comfort foods, try out some of the WeightMatters recipes
- Practice mindful eating
- Use The WeightMatters Food & Mood Diary
- Drink more water, record this in your Food & Mood Diary
- Incorporate stress-relief strategies into your daily life
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Big changes and life turbulence
Some life experiences may make a person more likely to be emotional in general. Big life transitions, relationship troubles, and world crises like a Covid 19 can cause heightened anxiety, which can make you feel emotional as a result. Studies have shown that using Mindfulness as a coping mechanism can help you regulate your emotions more effectively.
Grief and trauma
When a tragic event happens in your life, your emotional well-being can suffer. Emotions like fear, shame, guilt, anger, and sadness tend to be particularly high following trauma for obvious reasons. Early life stress, such as child abuse and stress, has also been linked with psychiatric disorders including depression and bipolar.
Grief and trauma are indeed complex: Your emotions may feel out of control, or you may feel like you don’t have emotions at all. Both of these responses are normal. Either way, it’s important to seek help from a qualified person so you can work through the challenging situation and listen to what your emotions might be telling you.
Anyone who’s been through PMS or been pregnant knows that hormones can cause your emotions to increase at certain times in life. It is important to remember the temporariness of your emotions during these times and to develop healthy tools for labelling the emotional tidal waves as they rise and fall.
You’re out of touch with your emotions
Some people tend to suppress their emotions or believe that avoiding emotional reactions is “being strong.” Thus, when their emotions finally get too powerful to ignore, they feel like they’re out of control or being “overly emotional”—when in reality, they’ve just been out of touch with their emotions for so long that they’re not used to experiencing them.
In other words, you may feel like you’re being very emotional right now because you think emotions are not OK, when in reality your feelings right now are totally normal and even healthy.
Sometimes it can feel like your emotions are getting the better of you. When you’re depressed, you may feel emotionally like you’re missing something in your life. As well as this, you may think that you are unloved, unwanted, or maybe even undeserving—and while the emotional experience is valid, the thoughts behind it aren’t helpful.
This is when emotions can feel difficult to work through. Processing your emotions in a healthy way is all about paying attention. Rather than burying them, learn to separate your emotions from their associated thoughts and find coping mechanisms that will work for you. It might simply be a walk in the fresh air, practising self-care or mindfulness. Check out YouTube for lots of helpful tutorials. Join WeightMatters for guidance on how to control emotional eating.
When to seek help?
Sometimes stress can be tough to handle alone. If you feel deeply distressed or out of control, seek help from a qualified therapist. If your emotions feel like they are negatively affecting different areas of your life, this is also a sign that you should reach out to learn new tools and strategies for coping.
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