How to Sidestep Binge Eating and Take Care of Your Mental Health During This Mess

By: Ali Sakr

I think it’s about time we address the elephant in the room. No, this was not intended to have a double meaning referring to you, because fat-shaming is terrible, but like, I’ve got to admit that this is probably one of the best unintentional jokes I’ve ever accidentally made :3

All joking aside, this situation might not be the best for everyone, considering how it’s affecting both our physical and mental health. From the feeling of uncertainty and panic, to the minimized human interaction, missing the world outside the confines of your house, boredom and lack of structure, it can feel like everything is falling apart. 

However, you needn’t have any worries, citizen. There are plenty of things you can do in order to ensure you remain in the best shape and state of mind that you want to be in, so let’s get to it.

1-Create Structure

This is, in my opinion, by far the most important thing to do when you’re in quarantine. It might seem a bit vague, so let’s clear it up a bit.

You want to schedule everything. From a general weekly plan with some basic goals, to the hours you spend everyday. This can include study/work sessions, breaks and fun activities, and most importantly, your meals. This will help minimize the chaos you might normally be feeling in this kind of a situation, and it will also limit the food you’re eating to your designated meal times. Yes, you might have a few snacks here and there during other blocks of time, and we’ll get to that now, but this is generally the first step you need to take.

How you might get around to actually doing this starts with knowing when you’re going to wake up. Ideally, you want to schedule your day on the night before; you can divide your day into blocks on google calendar, or write it down on a piece of paper – whatever feels most natural for you. 

At first, you’re probably going to be way off with the times you allocate, but experimenting will get you there, and you’ll get more acquainted with yourself as a person too. For example, I take around an hour and a half to get up, prepare breakfast and have a nice slow start to the day in the morning, watching some episode while I eat. Find out the time you take. Write it down. Repeat.

2-Healthy Snacks and Greens

If you feel the need to constantly munch on something when you’re doing quite literally anything, one way to make the most of this is to have healthy snacks. Be it some fruits, veggies, or maybe the occasional bowl of popcorn or some rice cakes, find something to satiate your desire to eat without actually causing you to fill up your stomach and take in too much unnecessary carbs and fats. 

You might find that this urge to snack is actually a form of stress-eating, and for that, it’s actually best to solve this problem at its roots. These next few entries will mainly be focused on how to manage your stress, working on your mental health and your eating issue simultaneously.

3-Don’t Wear your PJs All Day

There’s nothing that conveys a sense of laziness and sleep more than a comfortable set of PJs. When you wake up, change. Get into some clothes that make you feel like there’s an actual day your about to live, not just a few hours you’re going to mindlessly pass by. It really does make a difference.

4-Too Much News Isn’t Good for You

Yes, you need to be updated on the current situation, but make sure you’re not doing so excessively. Check the news – and social media in general – in moderation. I’m not making any ground-breaking statements by saying this, but we often need to be reminded to do this, especially in a situation when you’re at home all the time. It can really eat away at your mental health and create a subconscious state of panic that leaves you unmotivated and stressed for no apparent reason that you can really discern.

5-Exercise!

Another no-brainer. The endorphins. Burning excess food you might be stress-eating. Not to mention actually relieving your stress and boosting your mood and productivity.

You don’t need to hit the gym to feel like you had a proper workout. Anything from body weight exercises, (power) yoga, online follow-along workouts with weights, etc. will do the trick. You can also go for a run outside as long as you’re careful and are allowed to leave your home. This will also have the added benefit of a form of change and novelty, which will really help boost your mood.

Make sure to integrate this with your scheduling as well. Plan out a few blocks in your week to exercise, and maybe even plan ahead what video you’ll be using to workout for each session in advance. This is all just minimizing any resistance on the path to exercise, and will really help motivate you. Another trick to use is, if you’ll be working out first thing in the morning, set out your sports clothes from the night before. 

6-Stay in Touch with Humans

Whether its video calls and house party, just regular texting or calling, it will all help. We need human interaction to function properly, so make sure you’re getting enough at a time like this.

You can also play some online games with your friends, like Cards Against Humanity, or play some board games/have movie nights with your family. Some popcorn, Pictionary and a random sit-com playing in the background can surpassingly leave you feeling very refreshed, contrasting greatly with your constant staying in the room alone.

7-Work on Your Environment

Tidy your room and clean up. Mess around with the order of things. Move your bed, redecorate your shelves, or go study and read in the balcony. Find ways to change the scenery even when your in the same location – it’s also incredibly refreshing and eliminates that impending sense of stagnation that’s just bound to try taking over. Change is necessary to overcome your boredom, so try to integrate it in as many ways as possible.

This can even be in the form of separating your activities to different areas around the house. For example, you can study on the dining table, watch Netflix in your room, read in the balcony and have lunch in the living room. When moving through the day, looking through your schedule, you’ll feels this sense that once you’re done with whatever activity is currently at hand, you’re going somewhere. That will often be enough to keep you going.

***

And, that’s about all I’ve got for now. Let’s all try to make the most out of the added time we have, in both productivity and fun. Enjoy the slower pace to life, take a little breather and appreciate the comfort you’re allowed to feel for a couple of weeks. Not very comfortable? Create your comfort. Make it work. You know the things that make you happy, all you need to do is start – that’ll hopefully give you the motivation to actually do them.

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