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Are Stressed-Out Women Overeating Due to Poor Stock Market Performance?

The recent stock market gyrations may be sending women to the fridge to cope with their stress.

As they grieve the loss of their income, they react physically, emotionally, cognitively, behaviorally, and spiritually.  Some of the reactions due to lost income include:

Emotional: Apprehension, disbelief, disgraced, frustration, furious, worry, ashamed, embarrassed, helpless, overwhelmed, self-blame, lost, panicky

Physical: Digestive disturbances, fatigue, lack of energy, headaches, insomnia, peptic ulcer,  restless, thirsty, weakness, weight gain

Behavioral: Change in routine, crying, eating issues, refusing to talk about it, self-destructive, substance abuse, teeth grinding, restless hyperactivity, pacing, impatience

Cognitive: Blame spouse or partner, confusion, disbelief, exaggerated thinking, impaired self-esteem, obsessive thinking,  unbelieving the lost money occurred, sense of unreality,  perplexed, memories of other losses

Spiritual: Emptiness, no purpose in life, forsaken, hopeless, re-evaluate beliefs, questions about why God would let this happen

As women watch their net worth shrink with the drop in the markets, they may be prone to eating more.

Some women can’t cope with their loss and attempt to cope through food while others cope through alcohol or drugs. Some women feel traumatized by their lost income which can be considered psychologically overwhelming. Loss of money is frightening, especially as women age and have less opportunity to regain their losses. Stress causes fear and helplessness which may cause some women to cope with food and raid the fridge. Eating is comforting and for many, it links them to happy past occasions spent with family and friends.

Ten things that influence the way women react to their lost income include:

Type of loss, secondary loss, suddenness, preventability, multiple losses, ambiguous loss, culture and faith, history, age and coping style. Let’s take a closer look at the top influences:

  1. Type of loss: Stock market investments, bonds, retirement fund
  2. Secondary loss: Have to sell their house and car, take child out of college
  3. Suddenness: Slow loss of income or overnight loss
  4. Preventable: Could have taken money out of market; sold house sooner
  5. Multiple loss: Spouse lost job,  child needs operation and can’t pay for it
  6. Ambiguous loss: Uncertain if they will recover their money or if it is permanent
  7. Culture and Faith: Shared set of behaviors, values, identities, and practices of a particular social group that structure behaviors and the way to act and one’s belief system
  8. History: Lifetime of losses – how they cope is based on past losses and how they coped in the past
  9. Age: Retired and not enough years to earn what was lost, helpless to earn money back
  10. Coping style: based on learned responses and temperament

Rather than overeating, here are some tips to cope with stress caused by stock market gyrations:

Begin your day with positive self-talk. Write a “to do” list and tackle a current issue or top priority head-on. Avoid hot-button topics or use the phrase, “I see it differently.” Clean out your closets and have a garage sale to de-clutter your belongings. Rather than focus on what makes you weak, focus on personal strengths and be alert to your critical inner voice and change what it is saying. Develop a sense of humor and do something that makes you laugh.

Most importantly, don’t go on a diet to cope with stress caused by lost income.

Rather, think healthy! Drink at least 6 glasses of water throughout the day. Weigh yourself at 7:00am in the morning.  Don’t skip a meal. In fact, eat several smaller meals throughout the day. Divide healthy snacks into portions (nuts and anti-aging fruits such as blood oranges and apricots). Eat red, green, blue, orange, yellow fruits and vegetables that contain vitamins and nutrients. Increase fresh herbs and decrease salt. Remember the phrase, “portion control.”  You might have lost a good portion of your savings but do not lose hope. Pray, be thankful for what is left and what is still to come.

By Barbara Rubel, a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.