I spent lots of time thinking about how can I help people during this unusual and difficult time. Not only as a neighbour, a part of the community or a human being, but also as a weight loss hypnotherapist.
Whilst carefully observing other people’s behaviours and watching what are the recent subjects of the posts on social media, it occurred to me, that many people find it very difficult to adjust to the changes they have to face in the current situation. There are lots of people out there struggling with loneliness, boredom, lack of space and break from other family members on top of the general feelings of anxiety and insecurity.
There is an evident need for comfort, excitement, change and just ‘something to do’ !
Feeling ‘stuck’, ‘trapped’ in their own house people turned into pleasurable fixations such as alcohol or food.
It is not uncommon during the lockdown to see people in supermarkets filling up their trolleys with bottles of lager, crisps and various sweet treats (If you are one of those people, just know that I am not here to judge, only to make you aware of what you are doing and to help you).
Not long ago I’ve seen a post on Facebook that pictured the same woman in two different sizes. The slim one, looking in the fridge at the beginning of the lockdown and a really fat one looking in the fridge at the end of the lockdown. It made me chuckle but also it made me realised that staying at home, changing of the daily routine and unpleasant feelings that we are all experiencing made our subconscious mind to go into a ‘survival mode’. Trying to avoid what’s unpleasant and uncomfortable we seek simple pleasures to make us feel better, to soothe ourselves, even if it is only for a minute and even if it is not good for us, not good at all.
If you ever experienced feeling that you fancy something to eat but you’re not sure what, or have had a craving for a certain food despite the fact you’ve just had a dinner, or suddenly tried to come up with the emergency items to buy alongside your chocolate bar, in order to nip out to your local shop, you are not alone! It’s just nice, isn’t it – to have something cheeky here and there to brighten up the day? Or is it?
Here is the brutal truth – No, it is not!
Few minutes of the indulgence will not make you feel better for the day. It will make you feel worse. It will make you feel heavy, awful and like a failure, and very soon you’ll be wanting more treats, sugar, fat, whatever your poison is because the reason you want it is NOT THE HUNGER! The reason you want to eat is because you want to deal with the uncomfortable feelings that you are probably not even acknowledging! Simply, no amount of food can satisfy you, when you are hungry for good feelings.
This is where I can help.
What you are feeling is not a physical but emotional hunger. There are two differences between physical hunger and emotional hunger:
- Real, physical hunger is gradual and patient, emotional hunger is sudden and urgent
- Emotional hunger cannot be satisfied with food, physical hunger can.
The feelings that underlie emotional hunger come down to what Dr Ronald Ruden calls ‘inescapable stress’. In his book ‘The Craving Brain’ he describes it as chronic stress that lingers indefinitely. The cause of it can be different for different people; it could be something like an unhappy marriage, low self esteem or stress at work. This type of chronic stress creates physiological craving for substances such as food in order to deal with the uncomfortable feelings. Food provides the temporary relief without solving the cause of the stress in the first place. To stop the need to overeat you need to control your response to stress. Hypnotherapy can certainly help with that but there are other things you can do to lower the stress level and eliminate your emotional hunger.
I’m sharing the The Calm Anchor * technique, so you can do just that. By practising the exercise below you can recreate the same sense of calm inside your body as the one you use to give yourself when you overeat.
Please, read through all of the steps first before doing this exercise.
- Remember a time when you felt completely calm, in control and at peace. Use all of your senses to fully experience that feeling ( what did you hear, see and how good you felt). If you struggle to remember a time, imagine how wonderful it would feel to be completely in peace, calm and in control.
- Whilst you’re remembering this experience, notice the image you can see in your head and make the colours more vibrant, brighter, richer, the sounds clearer, the feelings stronger. When you are feeling these positive feelings, squeeze your thumb and middle finger of your right hand together. You are linking this specific pressure, in this specific area with this specific emotion. Remember this memory several times until you feel peaceful and calm within.
- Now remember this relaxing memory at least 5 more times while squeezing your thumb and middle finger together at the same time.You are locking in these good feelings. Repeat until you notice that you can easily remember the feelings of calm and relaxation, flowing through your body, as soon as you squeeze your fingers together.
- Think about a mildly stressful situation from the past, squeeze your thumb and finger together again. Feel the feeling of calm and relaxation flowing through your body and imagine taking this feeling with you in that stressful situation. Imagine everything going the way you want, everything going perfectly well. Use all of your senses to fully imagine how well it is going. See all the right things, hear all the right words and feel how great it feels to be so much calmer and in control in this situation.
- Continue squeezing your thumb and finger together, remember the calm feeling of being in control and imagine being in that situation that used to seem stressful again. This time, imagine some challenges occuring. Notice you’re dealing with all of them perfectly well. See all the right things, hear all the right words and feel how great it feels to be so much calmer and in control in this situation
- Time to stop. Reflect on that situation. Notice how different you are feeling about it. Do you feel less stressed and more in control? If you don’t, repeat the exercise. Keep repeating until you feel calm and in control.
The more you do this exercise, the easier it becomes to experience relaxation and calm ‘at your fingertips’.
The Calm Anchor * technique is from Paul McKenna’s ‘I Can Make You Thin’ book.