Dieting, restricting, binging and purging often involve detailed routines that give a feeling of control. It can be scary to move away from those routines into a new schedule, structure and way of eating. Recovery works best with the support of a mental health professional, but there are things you can do in your daily life to feel better and compliment your treatment program. If you know someone that is dealing with an eating disorder, you can help them by understanding the things that help (and the things that don’t).
Build a Strong Support Network: A support network doesn’t have to be an army of friends and family. It could be just one person who you can talk openly to about how you’re feeling. It’s important to have that person you can call if you’re having a particularly rough day or be honest with when things are overwhelming. For some people, that person may be their counselor or doctor. The important part is that you aren’t holding it all in and that you have that support system in place. It’s also important to help your close friends and family understand the warning signs that you may be falling back into unhealthy patterns so they’ll know when you need support.
Take Care of Yourself: It sounds so simple, but little things like getting enough sleep can make a huge difference on how you feel emotionally. Lack of sleep can, in and of itself, cause problems with depression and anxiety. Light exercise has also been proven to have reduce the symptoms of depression and lift our moods. Taking a walk when you feel overwhelmed or afraid can help clear your head and reduce some of that stress.
Use Moderation: We all know that drinking too much or abusing drugs can actually make you feel worse in the long run. Moderation is especially important when you’re managing a condition like an eating disorder. Your doctor may recommend that you don’t drink and only take medications that are prescribed to you. Moderation is also important in other aspects of our lives. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you may have to say “no” to certain activities or opportunities. It’s more important to rest and take care of yourself than it is to do everything.
Be Patient: Sometimes it takes a while to find the right treatment program for your condition. It’s important to understand that this is normal and part of the journey to building the program and lifestyle that works best for you. Be open and honest with your doctor about how you’re feeling and any setbacks you experience.
Be Grateful and Give Back: When we’re struggling emotionally or working to manage a condition like anorexia or bulimia, it can be easy to focus only on the bad stuff. Take time each day to think about the things you’re grateful for — the opportunities, people or things that do make you feel good. And, when you’re feeling up to it, volunteer to help other people. Getting out of your own head and feeling the satisfaction of doing good can help you feel better.