When Stress = Stress Eating


I woke up this morning, slowly. I’d stayed up until the wee hours, and didn’t want to get less than seven hours of sleep. I ended up with only five. Couldn’t relax because I was anticipating a stress-filled day.

For me, stress equals stress eating. Doritos, pretzels, homemade caramel corn – things that crunch. My stressor du jour is a website I need to finish for a client I’ve come to despise. I’d actually given up doing websites because, as a webmaster, I sometimes end up being tied to disagreeable people, but this guy was referred to me by a very happy client, so I obliged.


The good news is, I have a guy waiting in the wings to take over all my website clients. I CANNOT WAIT. A huge weight will be lifted off my shoulders. (Ever notice how many common expressions have to do with weight? Every time I hear “the elephant in the room” I get self-conscious. Just kidding.) Soon, I’ll be done with websites forever, and free to move on to other, more exciting and fulfilling goals.

But as I lay snuggled under the blankets, flipping through the morning shows – are you watching the Winter Olympics??!! (me neither) – all I could think about was what to eat to get through the stress without gaining weight.

I haven’t yet gotten to that stuff in my sessions with Tanza, but that’s likely a part of the self-esteem progression I’ll soon be starting on. So, I googled “stress eating” and found some of the ways to deal with it is getting the mind to relax. Best line: “Food doesn’t fix stress.”

I’m not so sure about that, but I did turn to aromatherapy.

I used to always work with lit, scented candles, but one windy, spring day I had the windows open, left for a few minutes only to return to a desk aflame with burning notes and books. As a joke, my son bought me a reed diffuser, which usually works pretty well, but not so much today. So, I flipped the reeds, and my office now is filling up with the scent of Warm Amber. (I don’t much care for the scent, but it was ultra-cheap at The Body Shop). After doing some minor surgery to reveal the wick, I also lit a ginger-peach candle, then put several drops of Twilight Woods (Bath & Body Works) in my oil burner.

My daughter sometimes says my office smells like Pier 1, which is where the candle is from.  As one of my favorite stores, that’s a high compliment.

The sense of smell is connected to memory.  That’s why certain scents remind us of people and places in the past. I always wear perfume or scented oil, and in my hair Loc Butter by Carol’s Daughter, which smells divine. For Christmas, I gave everyone gifts of scent – home fragrance and massage oils, reed diffusers, lamp rings, body butters, shower and bath gels. It wasn’t all matchy-matchy, either. Almond body butter was in the same package as persimmon spice oil and papaya facial scrub. I love the transformative power of scent. There’s nothing quite like it for psychological well being.


Indeed, I had forgotten just how powerful it all is, until just now. With the candle, burner and diffuser going, I’m breathing deeper, slower. Relaxing.

The stress and need for crunch has pretty much gone away. But now, I’m thinking about ice cream …


For fast-acting relief, try slowing down   ~ Lily Tomlin

Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.