The twenties can often be a time of uncertainty and confusion with the pressure to ‘have it all figured out’.
Hello anxiety and for many, hello feeling stuck in behaviors that don’t help us cope with the swirling thoughts around ‘what’s next’.
From working with young women over the past 20 years, I find that this phase of life can often feel like a quarter-life-crisis because it’s typically a time of change, inner growth and transition.
Underneath Weight Struggles: Stress & Anxiety
I lead a weekly discussion group for young women at Green Mountain, and although women come here to improve their eating and exercise habits, these discussions tend to center around the ‘what’s up’ in life that is fueling the tendency to numb out from what feels stressful.
Family dynamics, college stress, relationships, friendship angst, body image issues, job searches, dealing with trauma – past and/or recent, figuring out how to support oneself, pressure to live up to personal and parental expectations – these are just a few of the issues that get discussed.
What drew these women to Green Mountain was feeling out of control with their relationship with food and lack of movement (typically), but those concerns tend to segue into what’s underneath – to what’s feeding the desire to self-soothe with food, or disconnect from it all.
And going deeper into the ‘what’s up’ is a good thing.
Ignoring the thoughts and feelings around these issues is what fuels unhealthy behaviors because it propels us into survival mode.
When in survival mode doing what is in our best interest is not high on the priority list as much as immediate self-soothing in whatever ‘works’ in the moment.
However, avoiding suffering only prolongs suffering, which is why it’s important to lean into – not avoid – what feels stressful or uncomfortable.
Practice Mindfulness to Heal the Root of the Problem
Leaning into and managing our thoughts and emotions in a healthy way requires cultivating body/mind awareness, developing stress management skills and practicing healthier coping mechanisms.
These skills are the fundamentals for overcoming emotional overeating or binge eating by way of mindful eating and mindful exercise.
Related Article: How to Support Women Who Struggle with Eating and Weight
We can’t honor what we aren’t aware of, so the first step becomes learning how to tune into and honor our cues – not override them.
For young women, having the support while developing these skills provides the link between insight and action around optimal self-care based on self-compassion, individuality and a sense of empowerment and strength that they can manage whatever comes their way.
This is how self-esteem develops – stumbling yet facing the challenges head on and coming out the other side stronger, wiser, and with more clarity around how to approach life on their own terms, not the terms set by their families, peers or by the greater culture at large.
A Series for Young Women…
With this in mind, this blog will be a first of a series dedicated to young women and the parents that support and love them.
My intent is to help empower young women to better understand how to ask for and receive support in a way that honors their needs, to share with parents what helps (and doesn’t help) with their daughters in their journey toward creating a healthier lifestyle, and last but certainly least – to help illuminate the gifts that are waiting to be revealed within their journey toward better physical, emotional and mental well-being.