A guest post from Julie Wood a pet grief expert

Are you a stress eater? Do you turn to chocolate or wine whenever you are upset? Does that make you feel even worse afterwards?  You are not alone.

dog running in the grass

Why does our brain do this?

Our brains are hardwired to take us towards pleasure and away from pain, whether it is physical or emotional. It is a natural part of evolution and has helped us survive as a species – because in the worst cases pain can mean injury or even death.

This means that whenever we are in pain the brain searches for a way to make us feel better. It goes through all of our memory banks to see how we dealt with pain in the past. So, if when you were a child when you fell over someone gave you a sweet to make you feel better your brain might latch on to that.

If you ever rewarded yourself with a cake because you’d had a tough day at work your brain will remember that too. Perhaps you watched a TV show where the characters reach for a huge glass of wine or a bucket of ice cream whenever they are upset? When did you last see anyone reach for a salad? Your brain will have stored these memories, even if you are not consciously aware of them.

hot chocolate in a mug

Eating and drinking for distraction

The overeating and drinking is a distraction too. Even if you are thinking ‘I really shouldn’t be having this’ you are not focussing on what is upsetting you, so for a few brief moments, you feel better. And guess what? Your brain recognises that too – and if one glass of wine made you feel a bit better, how much better will you feel after two glasses, or three?

How to avoid this destructive behaviour

To avoid this destructive behaviour you need to recognise why you are doing it and start to face up to the problem. For instance, when I see clients who are grieving over a beloved pet I get them to understand that the chocolate or the wine is not bringing their fur baby back.

When the wine has been drunk and the chocolate has been eaten they will still be surrounded by grief. It hasn’t gone away. They need to deal with the sorrow, guilt or anxiety that they are feeling. Depending on their situation I can help them start their natural grieving process. Perhaps it is with a memorial, or even understanding that what happened was not their fault. Sometimes we use hypnosis or tapping to release the hurt and the sorrow.

three glasses of wine

If you are overeating or drinking because you are upset, stressed, anxious, or in any other destructive emotional state please be kind to yourself. We tend to be very self-critical and harsh with ourselves.  Get some professional help or at least a good friend to talk to. If you don’t let these feelings out any diets will be like putting a sticking plaster over a cut that needs stitches. Any relief is likely to be temporary.

Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge that you did the best that you could at the time. As long as you did what you did out of love you have nothing to feel bad about.

If you are struggling to deal with the grief of a pet passing away why not head over to Julie’s website and see if she can help. If you sadly have lost a loved one around Christmas or new year, then why don’t check out this post I have done a post about just that. You can check it out here

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