Questions to Sophie: Resilience and choices

Suzanne Kline

Q: I am eating and drinking more than I usually do, as of late. Iíve been to a couple of parties with friends and there will be more over the next few weeks. Iím trying to not eat or drink too much, but it seems thereís a lot of junk food and alcohol everywhere I go this time of year. Itís so hard to resist. I want to be stronger.

A:Itís helpful to identify the reasons that you indulge. While alcohol and sweets are more accessible at holiday parties Ė so are healthy snacks like veggies and non alcoholic beverages. The question to ask yourself is ďWhy am I making a decision for the unhealthy stuff?Ē

Stress is a major motivating factor in choosing these items. Other factors include: having seen parents or family members use alcohol, pressure from friends, the desire to belong and fit in, fatigue from long work hours, painful feelings and memories, strained relationships, financial pressures, anxiety and depression.

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Sugary and salty foods and alcohol provide an escape. They take your mind off of unpleasant thoughts, provide relaxation, and heighten courage in social situations. They produce a pleasurable feeling which is highly rewarding. So what do you do? Make a decision to develop resiliency so that you can resist temptation. Research has identified skills that resilient people posses, making them emotionally and mentally strong. Practice them to bolster your will power.

1.Choose optimism over pessimism. Optimism is the ability to maintain a positive outlook without denying reality.

2.Become aware of how you view your past. Forgive wrongdoings - yours and others. Let go of being a slave to unpleasant memories. Decide to make something good come from something that was not good.

3.Focus on your strengths and do not dwell on feeling badly about weaknesses.

4.Create positive feelings. Gratitude is a great way to do this. Hereís an exercise that produces positive feelings: Simply tell others at least one thing that you are grateful for about them. que

5.Stress can create feelings of helplessness. Unhappy people perceive themselves to have little ability to influence their situation, while strong people have a perception that they are capable of influencing aspects of their lives and so they plan, and take action, when faced with adversity. View adversity as a challenge and let it stimulate your problem solving.

6.Partner with someone who will help to hold you accountable to making wise food and beverage choices.

Finally, if you find it too difficult to make healthy decisions, seek professional, 12 Step or Recovery Program help.

Readers: If you have suggestions for the questions, or an opinion on the responses, please email questionstosophie@gmail.com. Your submission may be printed in a following article.

Disclaimer: Responses to questions are not to be construed as receiving, and are not a substitute for, psychological services, or treatment.

Questions to Sophie is a new question and answer column addressing reflections on work, family, friendship and personal issues. Send your questions to questionstosophie@gmail.com or mail them to The Hamburg Area Item office. Please submit by the editorial deadline.

The column is by Suzanne Kline a practicing psychologist born and raised in the Hamburg area.