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Clear the Clutter and Lose the Pounds: Shred to Shed

With New Year's on it's way this is a great time to lighten up your space, reduce the mess, relieve stress and in the end lose weight. How does it work? Take a look...

What better time than now, the end of the year, to organize your stuff?  Instead of gaining pounds you might actually lose a few.

On Monday, October 29th the most devastating storm of the last 100 years struck NY and NJ.  So many lost so much, and others were stranded for weeks “powerless” in many ways.  It was like living in the dark ages: a simpler existence, though not by choice.

We rallied to help, to find stuff to donate to help those who lost everything.  I scavenged through my cabinets for food purchased and never used and rummaged through closets for extra clothes to donate.   Sandy was a wake up call.  I was hit with the realization that, as the cliché goes, I use about 20% of my stuff, 80% of the time.

In my daily coaching work, I listened to the struggles of clients indulging in food as a way to cope; comfort food got a “free pass.”  Adding to the physical destruction, Sandy brought to some unwanted extra pounds during these stressful times.  In the greater scheme of things, this may sound trivial, but it’s not to the individual who eats uncontrollably under stress.

Clearing and cleaning one’s space is just one of several strategies to help with stress eating.  Research shows there is a powerful connection between mess and stress.  Clear the clutter, reducing your stress and in turn will you will eat less. See About.com

People turn to food to cope with anger, hurt, fatigue, deprivation, loneliness and even physical pain.  Showing one’s emotions is not always socially acceptable, but eating is.  What does a parent offer a hurt child?  Ice cream – it heals all, or does it?

So instead of food, how might organizing one’s space help manage stress and weight? Clutter creates a sense that your life is not within your control.  In this state of anxiety, the body releases stress hormones to prepare it to fight or flee, neither of which generally happens. The release of these hormones and more can actually create a physical sense of false hunger, or one might say, emotional hunger. 

If you feel anxious and find yourself turning to food, do something productive, something that gives you a sense of accomplishment.  Clear the desk, straighten a drawer or organize a closet.  Clean your garage, rake leaves; use the energy your emotions are stirring up instead of repressing them with food.  I’ve shredded many a pile of paper under stress.

When you’ve finished organizing, look at what you’ve accomplished and praise yourself for a job well done.  If you still have any negative thoughts or feelings bubbling up, dump them on paper, forward them to me – and I will SHRED them for you.

UP next… Journaling:  The Emotional Dumpster!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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