10 years ago I lived by myself. When I had a stressful day at work, a bad weekend for whatever reason or just sad/depressed, I dealt with it. But it's likely that how I did that, isn't how normal people deal with it.
I'd stop at the grocery store on the way home. There I'd get a pint of ice cream, a "picnic" cake that should serve 4, salsa, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, tortilla chips, a chocolate bar, several diet dr peppers and likely various other items. I'd pretend that I was shopping for my family and I and sometimes get enough for 4 people, adding a deli salad or something else to go with all this.
I'd get back in my vehicle to drive home and plan how and where I was going to eat it. When I got home I'd put the ice cream in the freezer, the cake in the fridge. The 6 ounces of sour cream in a large ice cream bowl with about 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese and about 2 cups of salsa over that. Then I'd take the bowl with chips , the deli salad, the soda and the chocolate bar up to my bedroom. I'd make the room really dark, turn the TV on and get into bed with my "dinner". I'd spend the next hour eating as much as I could, until I felt relaxed and soothed and "full". Once I felt full I was less stressed, but regretful. I'd lay and watch TV some more.
After about an hour or so I'd take the dishes and things to the kitchen and get my dessert. Because nothing sooths the soul like cake and ice cream. No bother dishing it up - take the carton and the cake in it's box back to my bedroom with another soda. I'd eat about half the ice cream and about 1/3 of the cake. Then I'd take the leftovers back to the kitchen, but only because I didn't want the ice cream to melt for the next time I ate some.
I'd go back to bed, in the dark, with the TV and lay. Soothed because I was full in my tummy. A bit later I'd drink the third soda and eat the chocolate bar before turning out the lights to sleep.
Truth is, I wasn't less stressed after eating all that. Sure, it felt comforting to eat those foods, because I was focused on the food and the taste, rather than the stress or depression. But once the food was gone and I was there by myself and regretted what I ate, I was still there. The initial stress was gone, but a new feeling of depression would set in. I'd lament my choices and plan never to do it again. But I did. Over and over and over again. Food was my constant friend when no one else was.
So here I am, 98 pounds less and about 5 years from my heaviest and worst habits. You know what I want to do when I'm stressed or depressed? Head to the grocery store. It takes EVERYTHING within me to not make that trip. It's easy to tell myself that I deserve the treat, the comfort of a cookie when things go bad. But the truth is, I end up at the end of the cookie, just the same.
Instead, I write. I think and talk aloud. I read. I take a bath. I walk the dog. I even go to the gym sometimes and run my ass off. Are there times that I indulge in the treat? Yep. I'm human and it's ok to make mistakes. But when I do that I'm aware that I'm doing it, I'm not eating 4000 calories and cups of food and I don't continue to do it all night. Is it hard to change? Yep. But unless I want the scale to go in the other direction, I need to start realizing that emotions can't be eaten away and my situation does not get better with food. It's ok to be scared, stressed, angry, disappointed, upset...EVERYONE feels those emotions and lives through to the other side to be ok at the end.
I need to repeat that: EVERYONE FEELS EMOTIONS AND LIVED THROUGH TO BE OK AT THE END. Feel them, don't feed them.