These ten ways to cope are only the beginning. Use your own imagination and creativity to come up with your own list.

1. Eat for Tranquility: Have a banana. Some of the reports I’ve been reading suggest a banana is a good anti-anxiety food. Evidently, besides sugar which elevates our mood and volume which fills our stomach, bananas contain a chemical that is soothing to our system, sort of a fruit-based tranquilizer. If you feel the need to eat, choose food or drinks that will chemically support of your need for comfort.

2. Start Singing: It is impossible to eat and sing at the same time. I sing an upbeat song, such as “Jim, Jimminy, Jimminy, Jim Jim Jeru, I do what I likes and I likes what I do . . .” If I keep singing that song, I lift my spirits and the impulse to eat fades.

3. Drink Instead of Eat: Fill your stomach with water or some other refreshing but essentially non-caloric liquid. For me, an iced coffee with a little milk and Splenda does wonders for my energy level and outlook. The milk provides a small amount of protein which reduces hunger and the caffeine gives me a boost of energy. Incidentally, recent research on coffee with caffeine suggests that it has anti-oxidant properties while decaf coffee elevates cholesterol (only slightly).Another choice is a glass of milk which also has chemicals that make us relax. Or what about a cup of “sleepy time” tea? This tea puts me at ease.

4. Go for a Walk: Why exercise reduces appetites is a mystery. You would think it would be the opposite. But in addition to its’ healthful effects on the body, exercise also has a calming effect. So grab a friend and walk, or go by yourself and meditate. If you can’t go outdoors, get down on your living room floor and pedal an imaginary bike in the air. Imagine the scenery as you pedal away.

5. Repeat a Mantra: For me, the most powerful current one I have is “And this too shall pass.” Evidently, Lincoln used these words to reassure himself as events swirled around him during the Civil War. They are profoundly reassuring to me when life looks grim and I can see no way out.

6. Do Someone a Favor: Focus on what you could do for another person that very moment. Could you write a note to a friend? Could you call someone you haven’t seen in awhile? Maybe a family member or old friend? Why not call a neighbor and see if they need you to pick up anything at the store when you go to town. Once you focus on others’ needs, you forget about your own.

7. Call Your Fitness Buddy: If you don’t have one already, find someone who is also trying to shape up and ask for support. If they aren’t at home, email them your thoughts and ideas or leave a long message on the answering machine. Keep talking or writing until you have talked your way through the impulse and your perspective is restored. If you don’t have a buddy, hire a therapist. But whatever you do, get the problem outside yourself. In that way, you can dominance over the issues.

8. Laugh: Keep a book of cartoons or jokes in your kitchen, if necessary in the refrigerator. When you are tempted to indulge, whip out your “laughter is the best medicine” joke book and start enjoying a good smile or belly laugh. Laughter is not only good for our bodies, but it also restores our perspective.

9. Play: Find something you love to do that constitutes play for you. For me, it is sewing and writing. I have managed myself through more impulses to overeat by going into the sewing room or disappearing into my writing than through all of these other means combined. Play is not a luxury; it is essential to our well-being.

10. Pray: None of us get through this world without help and support. Help and support can take the form of friendship from others and it can also come as a spiritual gift. We don’t live by bread alone; we humans are spiritual in our nature. Whatever your religious persuasion, don’t be reluctant to ask for help and guidance. I try to remember to start each day with two spiritual request s. First, that I be instructed on what to do and how best to spend my time. The second request: that I be reminded to listen when that instruction is given.

Well, here’s my ten best ways. What are yours? Let me know so we can add to our list.

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