Eating My Feelings: How to Deal with Guilt

White flowers

Get ready to crack out that Alanis Morissette song, because I’ve not been very healthy this past month. As someone who enjoys all the bright morning smoothies and vegan restaurants, I’ve had quite an appalling few weeks, this week especially. I’ve been binge eating, and today I barely left my bed. And the guilt is piling on top of the reasons for why I’m feeling this way in the first place.

Everything that’s gone before

I started Curiously Conscious three years ago to document new, healthy changes I was making in my lifestyle and diet. I was living abroad, speaking a new language, daring to explore Paris and further afield. This blog was a way to share my new discoveries with the few close friends and family who wanted to know.

Since then, I’ve become a little more prolific at sniffing out these new trends and tastes, and expanded the blog to covering my general lifestyle: healthy food, natural beauty, sustainable fashion and wellness. I’ve travelled further afield, and focused on my favourite haunts in my favourite cities.

Yet, for the last few weeks, I’ve been really lagging behind with it all. And it’s because I’ve been unable to cope with everything going on in my life: long work days have meant I’ve been less active; breaking up with my boyfriend warranted the quickest and most processed of foods. I’ve barely wanted to get out of bed in the mornings, or take my makeup off in the evenings. I feel… raggedy, and worse, I feel ashamed for letting myself get this way.

Here comes the guilt

You may have noticed I’ve been slower on the blog lately too. Since I was a teenager I’ve been writing as a way of relaxing, and it’s always a bad sign when my thoughts dry up – I know I’m in a bad place mentally.

However, it’s only now that I’ve realised that this is actually something I should write about, something I should openly share with you. I carry a kind of guilt around when I miss targets I set for myself, blogging included. My aim is to update my Instagram every day, tweet a couple of times, share articles I’ve loved and blog three times per week. This week I reached an abysmal one post, a few retweets, and a lonely throwback ‘gram. And despite receiving likes, comments, positive reactions, I feel like I’ve let you down. Like there’s a collective group of people sighing at their screens noticing I haven’t posted in a while.

I know it’s all in my head, but it’s the same way I feel if I miss the gym. I want to go twice a week. Or if I take the bus to or from work, when I should walk. Or if I buy a meal deal rather than make my own lunch… The list goes on and on and on.

But I’ve realised that this guilt is actually something I need to address as a whole, rather than frantically reach those targets every weak for fear of carrying it around. Guilt manifests itself in me physically, as a cramped stomach, tight shoulders, and low energy.

Add that to the emotional stress of my break up, and the “professional stress” of work, and you’ve got yourself a cocktail of unhappiness: two parts overeating, one part frown and one part insomnia.

Redressing the balance

I know how important it is to be healthy. But until I’ve ticked off my basic physiological needs, I can’t say that it’s my top priority.

I never thought the day would come where my first year people in business lectures would ever make their way onto this blog, but here we are. Any business or psychology student will be able to recount Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and it applies to me more than ever. Maslow’s theory is basically a pyramid explaining that everyone gives greater priority to things like food and water than self-esteem. It makes sense, it’s simple… but when was the last time you organised the aspects of your life in priority order?

Right now, I’ve got a lot to be happy about. I have food, drink, a home (albeit one with a soul-destroying price tag), a job. I have security, and a loving family. I have good close friends and I like my colleagues. But I don’t feel happy, and it’s taking over from a mindful, holistic lifestyle.

How to be happy

I don’t have the answer, I’m afraid. Right now, I wish I did, but I do see glimmers of it despite carrying around stress and sadness. I may see my parents tomorrow and that makes me happy. Right now even, I’m tucked up in a warm bed with nothing to do but write, and that slow pace helps me feel more contented.

As I said to a friend of mine last night: art, films and books all evoke emotions in us, and whether its to cry or to laugh, it’s all art. Life is the same, if not slightly less poetic – like the day the bus driver closed the door in my face and drove off and I had a little sniffle in the bus shelter.

Either way, I’m going to plough on. Tomorrow I might have enough courage to open a new healthy cookbook and try out a recipe. On Tuesday, I might go to the gym and feel good about it. Or, instead of all that, I might just stay home, watch a film, and coo over second hand dresses on eBay. And I know that’s okay too. When I’m up to it, I’ll write, and when I’m not, I won’t. Either way, I love you dear reader and I promise my love for living well is still in me… I’ve just got to focus on the well bit myself first.

P.S. If you’re struggling and you don’t feel like it’s letting up, please don’t keep it a secret. Tell a friend, a family member or speak to someone completely anonymous.



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