If you’re anything like me, you may have noticed a tendency to binge eat unhealthy foods at night.  You get home from a long day at school or work, and all you want to do is eat snacks and watch TV.  Let’s face it, who doesn’t love a huge bowl of tasty ice cream or a big bag of chips while watching your favorite Netflix show.  People bring snacks with them to watch television thinking that they will only have a few bites but really, they end up eating it all.  When you are watching TV, you are distracted and do not notice how much you are really consuming.  What people also fail to realize is that these eating habits can easily add 400 to 500 excess calories per day!  This late-night eating is often associated with stress.  People often deal with stress in unhealthy ways (binge-eating, smoking, drinking alcohol, etc.)  However, people must consider other ways of dealing with stress.  Below, I will list 5 healthy ways to deal with stress that will help you avoid late-night eating.

 

Exercise

Exercise is the absolute best way to relieve stress.  In my own experience, exercise not only helps me maintain a healthy weight, but it puts my mind at ease.  Science even shows that exercise causes your brain to release mood lifting chemicals.  Did you read that?!  Exercising not only helps you maintain a healthy weight but it physically makes you a happier person all around.  People often think that they must spend large amounts of money on work-out classes or gym memberships to effectively work out.  However, this is absolutely not necessary!  You can go for a run outside, follow free exercise videos online, or even power-walk through the mall.  Although joining a gym is great, it is not the only way to adequately exercise.  As the days get longer, and the weather is better, start now. Get out and exercise!

Listening to Music

The power of music to spark certain emotions instantly is amazing.   Songs can have certain memories, meanings, and feelings attached to them which may differ from person to person.  The same way music can shift your mood, it can relieve your stress.  Often when people are stressed, they forget to listen to music, or they avoid it.  This is because stressed people tend to feel like it is a waste of time, however, it is not a waste as it can significantly reduce stress levels.  You can easily incorporate music into your daily life by putting in headphones on your daily commute, playing music while showering, or even having music on in the background while you cook dinner.  Personally, I have a playlist of songs for all different moods and I listen to them accordingly.  Making playlists and downloading music that you love is a great way begin your stress relief.

Reading

Reading is a perfect way to relax and reduce stress.  Science shows that even six minutes of reading is enough to reduce stress levels by more than two thirds.  This is an extremely significant amount of stress relief just by doing a minimal amount of reading.  When reading, your mind is completely focused on the story at hand.  You lose yourself in the book and completely escape from the stresses of your everyday life.  A good story can be powerful enough to make me physically and emotionally feel like I am in the world of the character’s.  It can completely captivate my attention which means I am not focused on my daily stresses.  Reading has the capability to take your mind entirely off any negative feelings in your life.  It gives you a whole new perspective and a whole new world to think about, apart from your own.  Truthfully, “losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation.”

Meditation

Meditation is a very popular form of stress relief.  There are many different types and it is important to find the mediation that is best for you.  Since we all come in different shapes and sizes, one meditation technique will not work for everyone.  Some different meditation forms include mindfulness, guided visualization, heart rhythm meditation, and transcendental meditation.  Each meditation type entails different techniques and movements that work to reduce stress.  You might want to try a few different methods before deciding what mediation style works best.  Regardless of the approach that you choose, just 10 minutes of mediation a day is enough to help control stress and decrease anxiety.  Everyone can take 10 minutes out of their day to unwind, breathe, and relax.

Keeping a Stress Diary

Writing down your feelings can help you understand your thoughts more clearly.  Keeping a journal or diary can help you gain control of your emotions and improve your mental health.  Improving your mental health includes reducing stress and lifting your overall mood.  Sometimes, stress is caused by keeping your feelings and thoughts to yourself and never getting them out.  If you do not like to talk about your feelings, writing them down can be just as therapeutic.  Analyzing your diary can help you understand the causes of your stress and how you can improve the ways you manage stress.  It can help you get a grip of your feelings and truly understand your inner self, which is extremely important when attempting stress relief.

References:

Collingwood, J. (2018). The Power of Music to Reduce Stress. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 19, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-power-of-music-to-reduce-stress/

“Reading ‘Can Help Reduce Stress’.” The Telegraph, Mar. 2009.

eMedicine Live, Mindfulness Meditation, http://www.emedicinelive.com/index.php/Mental-Health/mindfulness-meditation-for-stress-reduction.html