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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Lott

Tools to add to your recovery toolbox

Updated: Feb 27, 2023



Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions that require a combination of professional help, personal commitment, self-care and supportive resources. In addition to these essential components,

Building a toolbox of strategies and tools can help you manage symptoms, cope with triggers, navigate anxiety and distress and so maintain your progress in recovery. In this article, I want to explore some of the tools that can be added to an eating disorder recovery toolbox.


Here are some examples:


1. JOURNALING

Journaling is a useful tool for people with eating disorders as it allows us to express our feelings and thoughts in a safe and private space. Journaling can also help identify patterns in our eating behaviours, emotions, and thought processes. It can also help us track our progress in recovery, set goals, and identify areas that need more attention. ( Click here to read a personal view on thew importance of journaling in recovery)



2. MINDFUL EATING


Mindful eating involves being present and fully engaged in the eating experience, focusing on the taste, texture, and sensations of the food. This approach can help some people with eating disorders to reconnect with their bodies and develop a more positive relationship with food. Mindful eating can also help reduce the risk of binge eating and emotional eating.


" Research has shown that mindful eating can lead to greater psychological wellbeing, increased pleasure when eating and improved body satisfaction"



3. POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS


Positive affirmations are statements that are repeated to oneself to promote positive self-talk and boost self-esteem. These affirmations can help individuals with eating disorders challenge negative thoughts and beliefs about themselves and their bodies. Positive affirmations can also promote self-acceptance and self-love. (Click here to learn more about using affirmations in recovery)



4. SELF-CARE


Self-care involves taking care of one's physical, emotional, and mental well-being. This can include the most well-known activities such as taking a bath, going for a walk, practicing yoga, or getting a massage, but self-care can mean anything that works for you. This can be having a good ugly cry to your favourite sad songs or movies, or de-cluttering the room at home you spend the most time in. Self-care can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, which is especially beneficial for individuals with eating disorders, as we commonly experience high levels of anxiety and stress. Self-care also helps increase feelings of self-worth and self-compassion.


"Self-care can also mean having a good ugly cry to your favourite sad songs or movies"



4. SUPPORT GROUPS


Support groups can provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals with eating disorders to share their experiences, receive encouragement and support, and connect with others who understand what they are going through. There are lots of different support groups available, both virtually and in-person. Support groups can be in-person or online, and there are many different types available.



5. MINDFULNESS AND MEDITATION


Mindfulness and meditation practices can help individuals with eating disorders learn to manage stress, regulate their emotions, and improve their overall well-being. Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment with an open and non-judgmental attitude, while meditation involves practicing focus and relaxation. Both practices can help individuals with eating disorders develop a healthier relationship with food and their bodies.

"When you practice meditation you can start to allow the subtleties of your own voice and the life you want to live to rise above the darkness of the eating disorder and enter into the light"



5. ART THERAPY


Art therapy involves the use of creative expression to help individuals process emotions, reduce stress, and increase self-awareness. Art therapy can take many forms, such as painting, drawing, sculpting, or writing. Art therapy can provide individuals with a safe and supportive space to explore their feelings and express themselves in a nonverbal way.



6. PROFESSIONAL HELP


A crucial tool in any eating disorder recovery toolbox is seeking professional help. Eating disorders are complex and require specialized treatment. The sort of specialist help you need will depend very much on you and where you are in your eating disorder journey; it may include a recovery coach, a therapist, a psychiatrist (or all three) and other specialists as needed. A therapist can help if you have underlying emotional issues or trauma that contributing to and maintaining the eating disorder, and sometimes people can benefit from registered dietitian to provide guidance on healthy eating habits and meal planning. With professional help, you can receive fully individualized care and support to help you manage your eating disorder symptoms and achieve recovery.




In conclusion, recovery from an eating disorder is a journey that requires support, patience, and persistence. Building a toolbox of resources and strategies can help you to manage your symptoms, cope with triggers, and maintain your recovery. The tools mentioned in this article can be effective additions to a recovery toolbox. It's important to remember that every person's journey is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Working with a mental health professional can help tailor your recovery plan to your specific needs and goals. By utilizing these tools and resources, you can work towards achieving recovery, having a healthy relationship with food and increasing your self-acceptance and self-compassion.



If you or a loved one are struggling with an eating disorder, reach out for help today.






References:

  • Roberts, K. E., & Danoff-Burg, S. (2010). Mindfulness and health behaviors: is paying attention good for you?. Journal of American College Health, 59(3), 165-173.

  • Stice, E., Telch, C. F., & Rizvi, S. L. (2000). Development and validation of the Eating Disorder Diagnostic Scale: a brief self-report measure of anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder. Psychological Assessment, 12(2), 123-131.

  • Tylka, T. L., & Wood-Barcalow, N. L. (2015). What is and what is not positive body image? Conceptual foundations and construct definition. Body image, 14, 118-129.

  • Warren, C. S., & Carpenter, K. M. (2015). Support groups for individuals with eating disorders: a review of the literature. Eating Disorders, 23(2), 144-155.

  • .National Eating Disorders Association. (n.d.). Treatment options. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/treatment-options

  • Eating Recovery Center. (2019). 6 self-care strategies for eating disorder recovery. https://www.eatingrecoverycenter.com/blog/2019/06/18/6-self-care-strategies-for


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