It’s the day after Turkey Day, so how do you feel? Usually, for many Americans, this is the day their guilt emerges and the inner insults start flying. Why did I eat so much? Did I really need that second helping of stuffing or the second piece of apple pie? I feel so fat. I’m huge. I just want to be in sweats all day and not move.
This disparaging dialogue may continue through Christmas, Hanukkah and the New Year, when we’ll be making a range of resolutions and getting ready for bikini season. And your guilt may be palpable. It starts in your stomach with a flurry of butterflies, and then travels up to your heart. It may be overpowering and overwhelming.
Margarita Tartakovsky is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com, an award-winning mental health website, and the voice behind Weightless, a blog that helps women deal with body image issues and disordered eating. She also writes a monthly feature for Beliefnet.com, covering topics such as patience and procrastination.
Editor: Saad Shaheed
Do your guilty feelings trigger unhealthy choices? To be “good” again, you may resort to calorie restriction, the newest diet craze or outright fasting. You may hit the gym hard and engage in extreme exercise. You might feel like a failure and berate yourself, leading to anxiety, anger and sadness.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. You can put a stop to your guilt. You can feel better. If you’re feeling guilty because of overeating, here are a few tips that may help:
1. Accept your feelings and move on. OK, acknowledge that you feel guilty and realize that this is just another feeling. But like other feelings, it will go away.
2. Tell yourself you’ll go back to eating healthfully. No harm done. You enjoyed a delicious meal, and the next day, you’ll return to your regular eating schedule.
3. Say something nice. Instead of swimming in guilt and self-criticism, say something nice about yourself. If in comes a scathing remark, out goes a nice one. In an earlier post, Dr. Staceyrecommended writing 25 qualities you like about yourself. “But 25 is a lot?” you may be thinking. She writes,
“Are you a good friend, mother? A caring, compassionate person? Are you funny? Do you like the way people can count on you, the way you smile, how thoughtful you can be? Are you a great cook, an honest person? Think of all the dimensions of personality/functioning and incorporate the positive feedback others have given you throughout the years.”
4. Think about the great things that happened. What parts of Thanksgiving did you enjoy? Did you get to see family and friends you haven’t seen in awhile? Did you laugh? Did you watch the Macy’s Day Parade? Just because Turkey Day is over doesn’t mean you have to stop thinking about what you’re thankful for.
5. Get up and do something. When you catch yourself ruminating, take action. Get out and take a walk. Catch up on some good reading. Hang out with a friend. Do a yoga DVD. Go to a movie. Play board games with your family. Instead of wasting the day on feeling bad, do something you enjoy. Let yourself have fun.
6. Treat yourself. The last thing you want to do when you’re mad at yourself is to take good care of yourself. But don’t let your love and acceptance be conditional (your love is unconditional for others, isn’t it? Why not yourself?). Treat yourself to a pedicure, a relaxing bath, a soothing hot shower or a massage (give yourself one or ask your significant other). Splurge on a good hand cream, create your own sanctuary, meditate or write in a journal.
How do you feel today? What ways will you stop those insidious guilty feelings? Do you find these tips helpful?