Below are things to know about going into recovery, taking care of yourself, and the importance of finding coping alternatives and identifying "triggers".
In our recovery from Eating Disorders one of the things we will need to learn to do is to find better ways to cope. We have learned through the process of our Eating Disorders that these behaviors were good "emotion blockers." We've discovered, even if subconsciously, that it is easier to think about food, not eating, eating too much, what we won't or will eat, how many calories we just had or will avoid, etc., than it is to deal with our feelings and emotions.
Keeping a journal is a great way to cope with daily stresses of life. To sit and write your feelings and emotions, your fears and dreams, about the things that are hurting you or making you angry, is to begin to understand and accept these feelings as your own. Through writing we can gain a better understanding of what we are truly feeling, and from there begin to express these emotions to others and to heal from them.
One key will be finding a good therapist. Support groups can work well for some as well, but don't rule out the fact that we all need some sort of professional assistance in dealing with these problems. There is nothing shameful about knowing you need help and seeking it.
Even if you have never considered yourself the artistic type, doodling and sketching can be great ways to help relieve stress. Think of when you were a child, before your inhibitions came into play and how you could fingerpaint, color in your coloring book, draw smiley faces on notes to friends.... doodle while you talk with people on the phone, take time out to sit and sketch pictures of your dreams, and don't worry how you think they look artistically. Enjoy the time for yourself and find expression in what you create. Buy a coloring book - you'll notice how much tension can be relieved from a little peaceful time to yourself coloring.
This will be the hardest one for a lot of us. Begin practicing at home in front of your mirror... and then with people you are closest to... friends, a spouse, your support group. Learning to live in the moment and express the emotion you are feeling will help to give you less of a need to cope with it later. With low self-esteems it is often hard to remember that we deserve to feel things, but we do! You've a right to any emotion you experience and to express it to the person hurting you, making you angry, frustrating you or even making you happy.
Write down what you are feeling and what caused you to feel that way (the emotions, the people, the actions, the environment, etc.) and write down how you are coping with them presently... Then, come up with a better plan for next time and write it down! Keep the list handy, write your self-affirmations ("I am a good person", "I love myself") on a piece of paper or index cards, along with coping alternatives and grounding methods as reminders of your own choice for recovery, and to help you along the way.
Remember, the number one person in your recovery is you. Finding what works and what doesn't will take time and it is part of the process. Answers are not going to fall in your lap overnight, but as you begin to find your individual conflicts, your wonderful personality underneath your fear and low self-esteem, you will begin to feel better. Find what works for you, whether it's reading or writing, support groups or spirituality, creativity and self-expression or all of the above. And remind yourself everyday, you are not alone and like all of us, you deserve to be happy and enjoy life. Don't lose hope... we can all find our way there.
Don't be afraid to take time for you. Take a class in something you've wanted to, learn to play a musical instrument, begin writing in a journal every day, drop the kids off at a friend's and go to a movie... do the things you want to do. Don't be afraid to say no to people asking favors of you and don't be afraid to say "hey, I deserve some time to myself." A great way to start is to turn the phone off for an hour a week and do something that is totally about you, whether it be to play a game of solitaire or to write a letter to a long lost friend. Just make it something positive for yourself. You deserve it.
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