Eating Disorders 101, Part IV: In Recovery – Tips for Long-Term Success
This is part four of the series Eating Disorders 101: Binge Eating, Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. Read part three here.
Let’s be honest; recovering from an eating disorder takes hard work. Treatment will help you develop a higher level of self-awareness and self-esteem. It’ll help you change self-destructive thought and behavior patterns and develop a toolkit of skills and strategies for coping with negative emotions, stress and urges. The more fully you engage with your treatment plan, the more successful your recovery will be.
Once you’ve completed treatment, you can stay ahead of potential relapses by drawing on what you learned in treatment and engaging in these daily practices.
Manage Stress and Anxiety
Anxiety commonly occurs with eating disorders, and stress is a powerful trigger for slipping back into old habits and unhealthy ways of thinking. A number of healthy lifestyle habits can help you keep your anxiety and stress levels down:
- Meditation reduces stress at the cellular level, and it’s been proven effective for treating anxiety, improving your mood and normalizing brain wave function.
- Adequate sleep is essential for reducing stress and anxiety. Develop healthy sleep habits for a good night’s rest every night.
- Breathe. Deep-breathing exercises reduce stress hormone levels on the spot. Just a few minutes of deep, slow breathing can restore your sense of calm and well-being.
- Avoid stimulants. Caffeine and other stimulants can heighten your stress response and leave you feeling jittery and anxious.
Awareness of your emotional state can help you stay focused on practicing the skills and strategies you learned in treatment. Likewise, stay mindful of your body’s hunger cues and satiation cues. To improve mindfulness:
- Meditate daily to increase self-awareness and focus
- Record your thoughts and feelings in a journal each day
- Take regular self-assessments throughout the day to identify your emotional state and address any negative thoughts or emotions
Be kind to yourself. Taking care of your mind, body and spirit is central to successful recovery.
- Avoid negative self-talk
- Have fun and enjoy yourself every day
- Engage in activities that make you feel good about yourself, such as nurturing plants in the garden, creating art or music or volunteering for a cause you hold dear
- Surround yourself with supportive people who have a healthy relationship with food and who value character over appearance
A solid support system of friends and family helps you navigate challenges in recovery and stay motivated to succeed.
- Join a support group, which provides a safe place where people going through similar struggles with eating disorders can exchange support, tips, advice and encouragement.
- Ask for help when you need it. It’s not always easy to ask for help, but turning to a trusted friend or family member when you’re feeling overwhelmed can help you stay on track with recovery.
- Engage in any ongoing groups or programs offered by your treatment center. These can help you sustain recovery for the long-term.
With an individualized treatment plan through a high-quality treatment program, you can successfully recover from an eating disorder and enjoy better health, a higher quality of life and an improved sense of well-being. Treatment works, and it can work for you or someone you love, too.
Download this entire series series as an eBook.