Weighty Matters

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Food – The Most Abused Anxiety Drug

on May 23, 2013

Today on Facebook, someone I know posted a picture that they picked from some other site.  The picture said, “Food is the most abused anxiety drug.  Exercise is the most underutilized antidepressant.”

Friends, I have to say that those two statements really resonate with me.  Can I actually say with any certainty that “most” applies in either case?  No.  I don’t have the data.  In reality, they could be massive generalizations.  However, I absolutely know that this is how I feel about food.  It is my drug of choice for anything — anxiety, stress, fear, sadness, nervousness, you name it.  It’s readily available without a prescription, too.

This is not a new realization.  I’ve understood this about myself for a few decades.  I’m much healthier about it these days, and self-medicate with food a lot less than I used to, but that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes fall back into using it as my anti-something drug.  (Last night’s popcorn, for example!)

The new realization is the second statement.  I know in the last year, or thereabouts, I’ve come to enjoy exercising.  I’ve embraced a more active lifestyle and can downright revel in the wonder of being able to move with greater ease, power, endurance, strength and flexibility.  I just never thought of it as an antidepressant.  Somewhere along the journey, I’ve begun to be aware of the mood-lifting endorphin affect created by exercise.  I believe I’ve even experienced the occasional Zumba-high.

Reading that sign on Facebook put some pieces together for me.  I’m going to be more aware of how I feel emotionally during and after exercise.  I also want to see if I can work this into an effective tool for myself whenever I feel the urge to reach for the drug to numb the undesirables — the anxiety, stress, fear, and so on.   Think how much better off I would have been yesterday at home if I’d done a walking program for even 15 minutes instead of eating some popcorn.  What if I could teach myself the alternate drug of choice?  I could stand up from my chair and dance in place for even a couple of minutes as a substitute behavior for compulsively eating.

Positive Action Changes Everything (P.A.C.E.).  I really like the idea of not merely focusing on the cessation of the undesirable behavior, but instead redirecting myself to a more desirable action.

Something to work toward, I think.

I’m heading out this weekend for a short trip to attend the wedding of friends.  As of right now, I’m not taking my computer.  I don’t think I’ll go three days without a new blog post, but whatever I write will need to come from my phone which is, thank goodness, fully functional once again.

Who else has plans for Memorial Day Weekend?

3 responses to “Food – The Most Abused Anxiety Drug

  1. Skye says:

    I’ve had therapists tell me that getting exercise when I’m feeling depressed or anxious would help me, but I’ve never done it (been stuck for a really really long time). So I think that some mental health professionals know this about exercise.

    This addition to your understanding and arsenal is terrific and I look forward to reading what you have to say about your new awareness and behavior practice. And, yes, I do plan to start doing more of this exercise thing myself as well. 🙂

    Good luck and have a wonderful weekend!

  2. kipper43 says:

    Hi Mary! I still have the same challenges every day with emotional eating. From the highs to the lows. I know I have the power to do the right thing every minute if the day. I totally agree that excercise (yeah I can finally spell the word used to be a mental block and a joke not being able to spell exercise !) is a mental and physical strengthening tool. I never thought of it as an antidepressant but I can see how that is applicable.
    On another note, I had a euphoric moment that you experienced, I went shorts shirt and skirt shopping and wandered into the regular women’s side of the isle and found multiple items that I can wear ! I almost started crying I was so happy and Almost jumped up and did a sidekick in the isle . Then thought I might break something or me. I can fit into some size 16! I have gone from size 28/30 to 16/18! I bought 16 bathing suit bottoms and 18 top! It is hard to explain or talk about it to those who are not going through our journies. Thanks for listening(reading) it really helps my morality!
    This memorial weekend I am spending it with the Florence’s sailing to Manteo and sleeping on the boat (a first) cooking out and absorbing all the positive in my life. Life is better than good it is great! God Bless our veterans and our fallen Hero’s. we will not forget.
    Be safe and happy this weekend😄

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