THE BLOG
01/13/2015 05:59 pm ET Updated Mar 15, 2015

25 Simple Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself -- Instead of Emotional Eating

Michaela Begsteiger via Getty Images

When you are busy or overwhelmed, it can be a challenge to squeeze in quality self-care and way too easy to resort to emotional eating instead.

Overeating can become a substitute for the hidden hungers we really crave -- rest, comfort, celebration, or simply  a reward for surviving a difficult day. It's one thing to know that you "should" eat less and you "should" take better care of yourself. It's another thing to figure out how to squeeze self-care into a hectic life and to make changes with overeating or emotional eating.

Taking better care of yourself doesn't have to be complicated or all-consuming.

Here are 25 simple ways to take better care of yourself -- instead of turning to food.

  1. Learn to say no with ease and grace. It makes it possible to say yes to the stuff that you are trying to fit in.
  2. Make an effort to get outside every day. Research shows the time spent outdoors is linked to an increase in energy and a heightened sense of wellbeing.
  3. Stop and stretch once an hour. It's one of the kindest things you can do for yourself in 60 seconds.
  4. Drink your water. You'll be hydrated and might also feel less hungry, more energized, and more alert.
  5. Get 7.5 hours of sleep a night. Chronic sleep deprivation leads to increased appetite, weight gain, lack of focus, and productivity. Sleep and you will feel and be better.
  6. Laugh daily. Laughter has numerous health benefits including lowering stress and improving your immune system. It's cheap and it's easy.
  7. Minimize night eating. Create a wind-down ritual that includes some nice things for you without including food.
  8. Short-circuit stress eating and overwhelm. Claim 10 minutes at the beginning of your day to get clear on your priorities, identify where to best spend your time and energy, and set your schedule.
  9. List your worries and to-do list on paper. This keeps them from taking up space inside your brain and short-circuiting your productivity and your good intentions.
  10. Collect ways of rewarding or comforting yourself that do not involve eating. Make a list of 25 (more!) ways that you can be nice to yourself.
  11. Practice feeding all your senses -- not just taste. Reward yourself with good smells, wonderful lotions, music that boosts your mood, or a massage or a pedicure instead of turning to food.
  12. Give yourself the same compassion, respect, and kindness that you'd give a close friend or family member. It's time to stop being harder on yourself than you'd be on someone else. Guilt and self-blame fuel emotional eating.
  13. Keep it positive. Focus on what you will do instead of declaring what you won't do or eat.
  14. Add more music to your life. It can be a mood changer and an energy booster.
  15. Do one lovely thing for yourself -- just for you -- each day. It doesn't have to be anything major, just lovely. When you reward yourself in other ways, rewarding yourself with food becomes less tempting.
  16. Practice delegating tasks and asking for help. Get comfortable with this by setting a goal of asking for help with at least one thing every day.
  17. Preschedule your self-care. When you leave your hair, manicure, or massage appointment, schedule the next one so it's sure to happen.
  18. Stop multitasking and savor the task at hand. When you are fully present, a job like washing the dishes or weeding the garden can feel completely different.
  19. Curb all the justification. Do something -- anything -- just because you want to.
  20. Have fun in your body. Move, dance, or stretch in a way that makes you feel alive.
  21. Add more color to your life. Spice up your clothes or your surroundings.
  22. Ask for what you need.
  23. Start a list of indulgences that aren't food. Start sprinkling them into your life.
  24. Accept your compliments. Don't deflect them. Don't minimize. The next time someone compliments you, look them in the eyes, say thank you and let it really sink in.
  25. Start a practice of listing three things that went well every day and three things you are proud of. Shift your mindset and create more clarity around all the ways you are effective.

Want more help taking control of overeating and getting off the hamster wheel of trying to lose weight? Start by taking the free Hidden Hungers Quiz, getting clear on what's driving your overeating, and the smartest, best steps for you to break free.