Last Updated on February 1, 2022 by Angela Vaz

You’ve had a stressful day.

You’re done with work. You’re tired.

You just want to relax.

You deserve that bucket of fried chicken. And maybe finish it off with some chocolate cake?

I’ll be honest when I say that this was me for most of my adult years.

Many of us eat out of boredom, sadness, or tiredness – more than hunger itself.

Although soothing at the moment, emotional eating can leave us feeling bloated and irritated in the long run.

In this post, you will learn how to comfort yourself without food.

No matter what emotions you’re feeling, it’s best to face it head-on rather than succumb to eating your feelings away.

And unlike in the earlier days where food was only available if we purchased all the ingredients ourselves and cooked a wholesome meal, food has become readily available for us.

Getting together with friends means ordering a pizza and gorging it down with beer or wine. A promotion at work can translate to hitting the best sushi spot in town. Coming back home after a 12-hour shift will translate to eating a big juicy burger in front of the television.

And because food is just a click away, we must become more responsible with it.

It’s okay to celebrate eating once in a while, but eating should not become your go-to comfort for everything.

That’s when eating food moves from a necessity to an indulgence.

And let’s face it.

Downing a bucket of ice cream after having a bad day feels nice momentarily. But after that, the realization kicks in that you’ve just consumed 1000 calories and your presentation is still due tomorrow.

Now, you’re bloated, sluggish, and feel guilty for overeating.

Let us understand how we got here in the first place.

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Why do I eat to soothe myself?

1. Happy hormones

Eating releases happy hormones. It’s a fact.

And it requires minimal effort, unlike exercising, which is strenuous and requires you to move.

Eating is a lot like social media. Dopamine is released with every click/bite.

2. The media is partially responsible

Almost every chick-flick movie has a scene where a woman gobbles a bucket of ice cream after a breakup or a hard day at work.

Women are also shown to bond over a box of chocolates a nice bottle of red wine.

3. Our pantries are stuffed with junk food

When we’re hungry, it’s easier to reach for junk food that’s readily available than go out to buy ingredients and cook a healthy meal.

Eating junk food is like binging on Netflix or mindlessly scrolling through social media – it’s all readily available.

Okay, now that we understand why it’s so easy to comfort ourselves with food, let’s look into alternatives!

How can I make myself feel better without eating? – 55 ways to comfort yourself without food

1. Journal

Journaling is an excellent way to soothe yourself and is extremely therapeutic.

Whenever I’m stressed, anxious, or sad, I journal.

This is my go-to to feel instantly better.

Dumping out all my negative thoughts helps me find clarity and realize what I need to do to straighten out my life.

It also provides me with a clear and fresh perspective.

Here are some self-love journal prompts to help you get started with journaling.

2. Pursue a hobby

Do it if you like drawing, dancing, singing, or writing poetry.

Do something that makes you lose track of time.

Engage yourself in activities that bring you genuine joy and make your heart sing.

There’s nothing more soothing than that!

3. Call a friend/family member

Nothing soothes me like talking on the phone with my girl pals.

If I’m itching to read a good book, I usually call my aunt, who is a voracious reader for the latest book news.

Have a few friends who love to talk and yap away.

Brownie points if you walk while talking – now you’re burning calories while having fun!

4. Read a good book

Speaking of reading, why not curl up with your favorite book and a nice hot cup of tea?

Pick up a book you’ve been meaning to read for a while (it doesn’t matter if it’s a magazine or a lovely graphic novel); just start flipping pages already!

If you’re looking for some self-love books, I got you covered!

5. Go out for a nice walk

If the weather is lovely, go out for a walk.

If it’s raining, put on a raincoat and then head out for a walk.

Walking is such a lovely and mindful activity.

If you don’t like walking in silence, grab a walking buddy or just plug in your AirPods and listen to some peppy music while breathing in some fresh air!

6. Create a vision board

Ask yourself what your life will look like in 5 years.

You can browse magazines or Instagram to help you put the pieces together.

Ask yourself your personal goals and make yourself a nice vision board!

7. Start a game night

My boyfriend and I play board games with our friends every Wednesday.

It’s such a fun activity that all of us look forward to, and it falls in the middle of the week, so it’s a nice break from work.

Play board games with your friends or hit a local meetup group that plays board games.

You can try some fun games like UNO, Draw without Dignity, There’s Been a Murder, or Off Topic.

I promise you the hours will just fly away!

8. Join a local meet-up group

When I was single and looking to make new friends, I used the Meetup App to find local meetup groups I could join.

I made some lovely friends, and I’ve spent many fun weekends outdoors!

Instead of stress-eating, go out.

Step out of your comfort zone!

9. Plan a trip

It doesn’t matter if it’s this weekend or a few months away.

Plan a trip that you could go on either solo or with friends. It will help you stay focused and add a little fun to your life!

10. Go on a trek

I went for my first trek last week, and it was terrific.

I’m not into sports or climbing, but the trek was beautiful.

Watching the sunrise made me realize how beautiful and big life is, and spending more time outdoors really helps you eat and snack less.

11. Treat yourself to a spa

If you’re stressed or have sore muscles, there is nothing better than a spa day.

Take an evening off and just hit the spa. You’ll come out feeling rejuvenated and relaxed!

If going to a spa is not an option, get a nice spa kit like this and do it at home!

12. Play with your pets

Your dog/cat must probably be itching to spend some time with you. Please take a few minutes to play their favorite game with them.

Brownie points if you cuddle with them!

13. Take a power nap

Take a nap if you're tired or bored. It beats comforting yourself with food.

Take a 20-30 minute nap.

This won’t interfere with your night’s sleep, and you’ll feel happy and peppy after a short, sweet slumber.

14. Listen to an inspiring podcast

I’ve been meaning to cut down on my meat consumption, and I enjoyed listening to a few vegan podcasts that inspired me to eat more veggies.

15. Learn a new language

Install Duolingo and learn a new language.

It’s so much fun and will help you take your mind off food!

16. Watch a fun movie

The key is to watch a FUN movie. The minute you’re getting bored, switch to a better movie.

This will keep you engrossed and entertained, and you won’t be reaching for food!

17. Go to a bookshop

I always get lost in bookshops, and hours fly by without me even realizing it.

Hit your local bookstore and just spend some quality time browsing.

18. Binge YouTube

I’m not encouraging you to go down a Youtube hole, but sometimes you can learn a lot via YouTube.

Watch an inspiring interview or an excellent tutorial that will teach you something new!

19. Start playing a musical instrument

Nothing beats taking your mind off food like music.

Get into the habit of playing a new instrument and doing it every day.

It will not only help you master a fantastic skill, but you will become more intelligent and improve your hand-eye coordination.

20. Do a puzzle

Puzzles are so much fun!

They challenge your mind to work better and faster!

If puzzles aren’t your thing, play a mind game you like: Crossword or Sudoku.

21. Declutter your home

One of the best things to do when you're bored is to declutter your home. This is a nice way to comfort yourself without food.

Every time I want a mental boost, I declutter my home.

Getting rid of things will help you gain a lot of clarity and make you feel happier and brighter!

Give it a shot.

22. Clean your home

Perhaps the kitchen needs some scrubbing? Or are the floors messy? Or your couch is covered with your pet’s fur.

Get your cleaning tools out and get to work!

It will help you release a lot of pent-up energy, and your home will be squeaky clean afterward!

23. Hydrate yourself

Often we are more dehydrated than hungry, but our bodies can confuse the two.

Just drink a warm glass of water and wait 5 minutes.

You’ll feel hydrated and much better.

If you want to add a little kick to it, add some fruits to your water or make yourself a nice cup of tea.

24. Take a hot shower

If you’re tired, stressed, or angry, just take a hot shower.

It will help you let off some steam (pun intended.)

Go all out by using a nice loofah and your favorite body gel.

If you have a tub, make yourself a nice bath and let the bath salts melt all the tension away!

25. Adopt a nice skincare regime

No matter how old you are, skincare is vital.

Research minimalist skincare and adopt a nice routine.

26. Declutter your phone

We use our phones all the time, but how often do we delete unwanted and unused apps?

Take some time to go through your phone and delete anything you’ve not opened in a while.

Back up your photos and delete photos you don’t want in your gallery.

Get to inbox zero with your email and sort your messages while you’re at it.

27. Rearrange a room

Perhaps you’re bored of how your living room looks. Maybe you could rearrange the furniture to make it look different!

I always love rearranging my office when I want to feel inspired, and it does lift my mood.

28. Write a letter to yourself

The benefits of writing a letter to yourself are, it will give you a chance to self-reflect and get to know and pursue your goals. A letter to your future self will also alleviate your pain.

Writing a letter to yourself is one of the most therapeutic ways to increase self-awareness and feel overall better.

I constantly write letters to myself and record voice messages and love reading them a year later to see how far I’ve come or how much my life has changed for the better.

29. Meditate

I started meditating last year, and my life changed for the better.

I learned how to let go of the past and stop overanalyzing everything.

Meditation will help you become calm and find peace.

I cannot stress how much peace and tranquility I found after meditating for just 5-10 minutes a day.

Here are a few posts you might enjoy:

30. Start a blog

If writing and creating is your passion, why not share your thoughts with the world?

Start a fun blog about something you are seriously passionate about or brings you joy.

Starting a blog just takes 10 minutes, and you can also make a nice side income with it!

I even have a fun free 5-day email course you can take to start your blog!

Start a blog and have some fun!

Give it a try!

31. Get a haircut

Maybe you’re looking for a change and just want to do something adventurous.

Get a fresh, new look.

Get a haircut! It will make you feel super happy!

32. Start a fun project!

Has there been something you’ve wanted to do for years? Like write a book, or create little miniature dolls with clay?

There is no better time to start than now.

33. Take a fun online class!

Have you ever wanted to pick up a skill like drawing, calligraphy, or writing?

Now is your chance to learn something new without stepping out! Go on Domestika and buy yourself a fun class!

I honestly love Domestika because their courses are so beautifully organized, and the resources they provide after every class is so helpful to help you learn better! Not to mention, it’s not expensive. Use STRAYCURLS-10 to get a 10% discount on any course you buy!

34. Rearrange your closet

Rearrange your closet

This is such a fun activity to do and will most definitely take a few hours if you’ve hoarded clothes for years that you don’t wear.

Here’s an excellent post I found on how to rearrange your closet if you have a small closet and lots of clothes.

35. Catch up on your To-Do List

If there are things on your monthly or weekly to-do list that you’ve not finished yet because you’ve been putting them off, get to work on them!

Mow the lawn or clean your toilets.

Get to work on your taxes or get a yearly checkup done.

This will help you feel more accomplished.

36. Pamper yourself

Go to the salon and get a nice mani-pedi done.

Or get yourself a nice facial.

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, get yourself a kit and do it at home!

37. Start watching a new reality TV series

If you’ve been meaning to watch America’s Next Top Model or the Kardashians, then now is your chance.

Get yourself a subscription and just binge-watch those shows. The drama will help you forget about food and help you relax and laugh.

38. Create a new playlist

Open your music app and create a fun music playlist for yourself that you can listen to when you’re tired, bored, or sad.

This is an activity I love doing when I’m traveling in a cab.

39. Buy yourself something nice

Shopping isn’t always the answer, but once or twice a month, it’s okay to buy yourself something nice.

If you’re looking for minimalist gifts that will not cause clutter, read this post!

40. Go for a date

Go for a fun date with your partner or best friend and just have fun.

Go for a nice, fun date with your partner or a bestie.

Catch the latest movie you’ve been meaning to watch or go to the arcade and play dance-dance revolution.

Make the date all about having fun!

41. Go bowling

Grab a few friends and go bowling. You can make a night of it!

My friends and I recently went to the arcade, and we spent the whole day there bowling, shooting targets, and playing basketball.

42. Color!

If you want a nice, relaxing hobby, there is nothing better than coloring.

A lot of my friends do coloring. You can either find an app on your iPad to color or just snag one of these fun adult coloring books.

It’s a very relaxing hobby, and you can spend hours lost in coloring!

43. Dance

Play your favorite music that’s peppy and got lots of beats and belt out some moves.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. You just need to have fun.

Brownie points if you sing along while dancing.

Dancing will help you get rid of that pent-up energy and will burn some calories too!

44. Make a gratitude list

You can get yourself a lovely gratitude journal like this one, or you can just take an empty notebook and list down all the things you’re thankful for.

Expressing gratitude will make you feel so much better, and you will begin to see the light in positive situations.

I highly recommend picking up journaling as it’s incredibly therapeutic.

45. Do an online workout

Online workouts are so much fun, and they motivate you to start becoming fit.

Look for dance workouts on Youtube and just follow along.

I even picked up Yoga this way!

46. Clean your make up brushes

Did you know that you need to clean your makeup brushes at least once a week to ensure that you’re not collecting bacteria?

So, go ahead and clean it all, including the beauty blender!

47. Look through your finances

Account for your finances.

Access your finances and sort it all.

Create an excel sheet of all your accounts and savings so that everything is nice and organized.

Sit down and see how much you spend in a month and then work on creating a monthly budget so that you can plan for your retirement.

48. Do your Christmas shopping early

Buying Christmas presents at the last minute is always disastrous because everything is out of stock.

Get a head start by doing all of your Christmas shopping right now!

Here is a fun post on minimalist Christmas gifts you can gift your loved ones!

49. Play Wordle

This new fun game is trending all across the globe.

Just hop on Wordle and guess the word of the day if you can!

It’s a fun game, and it makes you scratch your head.

50. Donate your stuff

If your home is filled with things you don’t use or want, why not donate them to someone who needs those things?

Get a few cardboard boxes and pack up a few things each week so that you can make someone else super happy.

51. Check on your peeps

I send a few voice notes to my dear family and friends whenever I have some free time.

I like checking up on them or telling them what’s going on in my life of late, and I do this to see if they’re free for a phone call.

Checking in on someone can spruce up their day and make you feel happy too!

52. Try a new makeup look

If you’re bored, why not watch a nice YouTube video and try out a new makeup look?

It’s good practice for when you’re going out next and want to paint the town red!

53. Clean out your fridge

Let’s admit it: cleaning out the fridge isn’t something we do all that often.

And it can get really crowded in there.

Toss out items that have crossed their expiration date and organize your fridge so that you can have a healthy relationship with your food!

54. Look at the stars

If you don’t have your own balcony, go to a terrace or drive to a cliff.

And just lie down and watch the stars.

Watching the stars will make you realize just how big our universe is and how small and insignificant we all are compared to the size of everything that’s out there.

It is a very relaxing activity.

55. Karaoke

Karaoke is a fun way to pass time and you won't feel hungry.

You can do it in your living room or call a few friends over and have a ladies’ night.

Install an app on your TV or phone and sing along to your favorite songs. It’s a lot of fun!

Wrapping it up:

I hope this post helped you learn how to comfort yourself without food.

If none of these activities appeal to you, and you feel like eating, opt for a healthy snack.

Try to get rid of all the junk foods you are inclined to eat when you are emotionally triggered.

And pick something healthy for you like fruit or some cut-up veggies.

Here are a few posts you might enjoy:

Angela is a 29 year old Illustrator and Blogger living with her 2 adorable labradors in Bangalore, India. She has a degree in Psychology and Human Relationships from the University of Toronto. When she's not writing her heart out or drawing, you'll find her sipping chai and reading non-fiction books.

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