It’s a well known cliché: you’ve had a bad day; you’ve been heart broken, hurt, dumped or just feel un-loved; so you reach for that tub of luxury ice cream or batch of double chocolate brownies to soothe away your blues. The cliché is played out in television dramas, romantic comedies and real life, but there I bad news for those who feel tempted to reach for the comfort food to ease the pain of a broken heart as research from the New University of Minnesota presented at the Association for Psychological Science meeting in 2014, suggests pigging out on comfort foods may not help you recover any faster when you feel sad.
After a comprehensive study, the scientists also found that comfort foods were no more effective at remedying a case of the blues than not eating at all.
So why does our preferred comfort food lend us the promise of feeling better?
Well the researchers suggest that it’s that other time honoured cliché of ‘times a great healer’. It is suggested that in the twenty minutes or so that it takes someone to consume their chosen comfort food fix, a person is able to recover their mood. This mood revitalisation is not due to the food consumed, but because the person has allowed themselves the time necessary to distance themselves from the negative mood. In reality whether you devour a green salad, a steak pie or a doughnut, it simply won’t accelerate that process of emotional healing.
What to do
So it’s best to avoid raiding the freezer when you’re sad—and instead to learn these healthier ways to cope with a bad mood:
Go for a walk – A five-minute walk outside or another calming activity like yoga are both great coping strategies for how to deal with negative emotions
Take Control and Learn Self Control – Sit up proud and relaxed wherever you may be. Place your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Extend your hands palm down and place them gently in your lap. Make sure your elbows are naturally back by your sides. Relax your shoulders so the muscles around them are neither tight nor tense. Breathe deeply in through your nose and exhale through your mouth to help your body relax into this position. Close your eyelids lightly and continue breathing deeply. When using self-control time as a regular part of the day, it should last approximately three minutes. When using it as a way to help regain self-control, it should last approximately one minute.
Write down your thoughts – writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a great way of letting go and venting. You can write down everything and then rip the letter or note up afterwards, because it’s the process that counts not how eloquent your writing is.
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