As someone who suffered from binge eating disorder and is now well into recovery, Jacki Monaco regularly shares her journey on A Weight Lifted in her column “The Binge Eating Diaries.”
One of the great things about getting laid off is the excessive amount of free time! One of the worst things about getting laid off is the excessive amount of free time! So, as you might have guessed, my most recent job decided to let me go. I’m not wallowing in self-pity, as half of the players on our team were given the boot on the same day. It’s just one of those unexpected life hiccups. We take a deep a breath and we just keep on keepin’ on…
Free Time Can Be Challenging
The good news is that I’ve been using my time wisely and creatively, and I’ve been enjoying a little freedom before I start the next leg of my never-ending job journey. The bad news is that all of this delicious free time lends a hand to challenges. My schedule isn’t regimented these days and when my daily life isn’t following a strict pattern, my eating habits tend to waiver. For weeks, I was working to find a comfortable lunchtime routine at my previous job and now, after conquering that challenge, I’m back to the drawing board…
When 8 hours of your normal day suddenly frees up – you’re left with a considerable amount to overthink… and eat if that’s what rings your bell. Although I’ve had plenty of flexibility to overindulge… I haven’t had a binge (go me!) but boredom eating has become a beacon. Now, knowing that I don’t want to develop a habit of turning to food when I’m bored – I try to keep my body in motion and my hands busy.
But life happens and sometimes there are lulls in the day when I find myself in the kitchen – no hunger pangs to be felt and no culinary goal in sight… just me, myself, and I searching for something to help fill “our” time by filling “our” stomach.
And at the end of some particularly rough days, I start to feel like the victim… I just got canned from my job – now THIS? Again!? Why me!? But I am not a victim. I am a survivor. So, here we go again – stand tall, chin up, let’s figure this out, self!
Temptation, Boredom…And Food
The silver lining to all of this is that I’ve been able to focus more on my hunger cues instead of the clock and my stress level. I’ve even been eating a healthy, balanced breakfast. That, my friends, is one point for me! Throughout the first half of the day, I feel comfortable with my food choices. The real challenge starts when my significant other goes off to work at 4pm and I get home from the gym… at say… 6pm.
This is when the slope can get a little slippery. I’m left completely unsupervised – alone with my thoughts and my refrigerator for the next 6 hours. On a challenging day, I feel like I’m stuck in my own personal Twilight Zone hell. Ah, the temptation! The time! The boredom! The food! But again, I remind myself – there are SO many other things I could be doing with this precious time than boredom eating.
(Note: Eating if you’re physically hungry does not qualify!) Okay… but seriously… what ELSE is there to do?
4 Ways to Use Extra Time And Combat Boredom
1 Create A Safe Place
I’ve had a desk in my room for years, but it’s barely gotten any use until recently. When I got home from work, the last thing I wanted to do was sit at a desk again. Now, I’ve organized it and made it MY safe place to write, job search, and explore the wonderful World Wide Web. (It doesn’t hurt that the kitchen is out of view from my royal throne… out of sight, out of mind! Well, not completely… but it helps…!)
2 Make Goals, Goals, Goals!
Being unemployed can be a real doozy when it comes self-esteem. I already struggle with confidence issues from the moment I wake up in the morning to lights out, and not having a place to go each morning can make this even worse.
So, I MAKE myself busy with all of the things I can’t do when I’m working full time. I have a calendar of mini, affordable events written out so that I have small things to look forward to. I have a corkboard with reminders and goals pinned up loud and proud! And I also keep a daily planner with me, filled with boxes to check and conquests to cross off as I go through my day. For me, feeling accomplished gives my self-confidence an extra jolt.
3 Motivate with Extra Movement
I’m usually pretty consistent about getting to the gym 4 days a week, regardless of my employment status. But now, I’ve been doing my best to add an extra fun, physical movement into my schedule. I love to walk – especially during the fall with the crisp, cool air and breathtaking foliage. So, I’ve been taking a little extra jaunt sometime during the day to clear my mind and reenergize my body. (Psssst. I have a trick…
The less I think of this walk as actual “exercise”… the more excited I am about doing it! It’s just for me. Just because! No reason necessary.)
4 How About… A Little Fun?
The unwelcome demons in my head make it challenging for me to believe that I “deserve fun” right now. I’m jobless and shouldn’t be spending my time or money on frivolous things. But then I ask myself, why don’t I deserve it? And it all goes back to feelings of inferiority and self-doubt. But WE do deserve some little adventures, wardrobe treats, date nights, a marathon of our favorites shows, etc. Filling our time with fun doesn’t have to cost much.
In fact, it doesn’t have to cost anything at all. But regardless of the price tag, or lack thereof, these moments of joy add a type of richness to our lives. And the more excited we feel about life – the more positive energy we’ll put out into the universe… and it’ll come back around. You know… that whole karma thing. It’s a good cycle, not one of the vicious ones we so desperately try to avoid.
Some Positive, Corny Words of Wisdom… Just for US!
Even if you’re not in the same boat as I am – we’re all part of the same ocean. And my hope with this blog is that maybe (just maybe) my strategies can help inspire you to find your own way to float along happily and confidently during times of boredom. There will be waves (there always are…) but remember – food is not the only buoy out there.
In fact, there’s a secret lighthouse with your name on it, all you have to do is follow the light… But the big question is, once you spot it… are you ready to swim? Let’s turn some free time into ME time!
Until next time,
Even if you aren’t able to relate to my current situation, do you find yourself struggling with food when it comes to schedule changes, excess time, or boredom? Please feel welcomed and safe to comment below!