I’m a single working woman. I have a busy schedule in the day, but feel lonely in the evening. I eat a lot of convenience foods, but they never satisfy me. I am tired, stressed and miserable.

At first it appears that there are several issues going on in your life that need to be addressed. However, in reality, it’s quite probable that these issues are all linked. They feed and grow off of each other and are part of a much bigger problem. Identifying and then addressing the source of these issues will help you begin to tackle them. What you’re doing at present is akin to owning a home with a bad leaking roof and spending your time painting the walls — it’ll look good for a moment, but ultimately if you don’t fix the roof there’s little point painting the walls.

I’ll elaborate. Ask yourself why you think you are overeating and yet you still feel unsatisfied? This is because you may have the urge or the habit to eat (I’ll come onto what you’re eating after we’ve discussed why you’re eating) but in reality, you are not physically hungry at all, in fact very few people in modern affluent society ever are. I believe you are emotionally hungry. You are an emotional eater and how you feel directly affects what and how you eat. You seek comfort in food, but ultimately find none and so find yourself unsatisfied and even more unhappy in return. Not a good deal.

You state you are lonely. I sympathise with you. Careers can dominate our lives leaving little time to develop friendships away from work. I’m afraid as a lone eater you are susceptible to eating the wrong things in greater quantities. As an unhappy lonely solitary eater, you are doubly likely to seek solace in foods which give a feel-good, instant ‘hit’. This unhealthy, high fat, salt- and sugar-laden junk promises a lot, but delivers very little. Unfortunately, the ‘reward’ they offer you, the instant gratification you receive from these highly processed foods, is fleeting. And as an extra blow, sadly the damage can last a lifetime.

So, how to change things for you? Firstly, I suggest you need to do an audit of your lifestyle. Now’s the time to take a proper look at yourself. You’re going to need to RPC it. Review. Plan. Change. It’s time to stop neglecting yourself and start respecting yourself. So, food should take the form of regular nutritious and balanced meals. Don’t overeat and please don’t starve yourself either. And no, I repeat, no fad diets. Instead, practise listening to your body’s own hunger compass and take direction from it.

You say you’re tired and miserable, again these things are linked to the wider need to change. For example, lethargy produces poor-quality sleep and you really need good-quality sleep to think clearly and deliver your best. Could it be that you are not making friends outside of work, because you are so tired and therefore don’t get involved in social activities? Are you stressed and miserable because of your lifestyle as opposed to your lifestyle making you stressed and miserable? You can change this, maybe consider meditation and reflective thinking, hypnosis and yoga — all great stress-busters and a fantastic way to make the human connections that are so vital to our own well-being.

Also, you need to exercise regularly. This will help on so many levels. Regular exercise releases endorphins, which help counter low mood and it will help you to sleep more deeply too.

Also read: 7 ways to build your physical stamina

There are countless ways to make lasting changes to your life. What they all have in common though, is that they must come from you. Take that first step towards change and you will soon be taking the second.

Russell Hemmings is a Dubai-based lifecoach and hypnotherapist. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.