Are you suffering from the Quarantine 15? If you haven’t yet heard of the term, it’s a bit like the “freshman 15,” only quarantine style. While there are certainly some people who don’t have enough to eat, others are packing on the pounds with each passing week.
For many, the pandemic has brought added stress, less sleep, changes in routine, and either loads of extra time or much less free time. Each on its own can tip the scale, yet most people experienced all at once, without warning.
Many an article recommends setting goals, changing habits, cooking healthier fare, and exercising regularly. Those are all good strategies, but it’s helpful to first look for the source of the weight gain, which very likely is uncomfortable emotions.
Most people are taught from childhood that uncomfortable emotions are not okay: “Don’t be nervous,” “Don’t be sad, cheer up.” In truth, life isn’t all unicorns and rainbows.
In fact, life is approximately 50/50, with half of emotions being difficult, negative, or uncomfortable and the other half being happy, joyous, and pleasurable. Without one, we can’t fully appreciate the other.
Living an authentic life is to expect and fully experience this balance, allowing uncomfortable emotions without trying to change them, also known as buffering.
Buffering is using external things to try to change how we feel emotionally. It is reaching for your escape button of choice, whether food, sweets, alcohol, Netflix, Amazon, work, or busyness.
The pandemic has, for many, served up big doses of discomfort: stress, boredom, loneliness, and uncertainty, to name a few. Reaching for a buffer seems like a temporary relief, yet this results in a net negative consequence: the feelings wait patiently, and the extra pounds pack on.
The guilt from overeating is yet another negative emotion, which prompts more buffering. It’s a vicious cycle.
The world is full of escape buttons, but the more we spend, the more we spend; the more we drink, the more we drink, and the more we eat, the more we eat.
Another option is to allow difficult emotions to simply be present. Rather than attempt to run away, we can breathe it in, notice how it feels in the body, describe it, and breathe through it.
We can be present with it until it loosens its grip or changes in some way. And if it doesn’t fully leave us, we can go about our day with it, like carrying around a heavy purse.
Processing an emotion – allowing its presence without reacting to it – is not only the key to losing the Quarantine 15 but is also the currency to achieving any dream.
Have you felt the impact of Quarantine 15? What is your stress buffer? Have you tried to go on without the buffer? What were the results? Please share your story and observations with our community.