You can’t create a positive life with a negative mind.
Creating a life worth living is essential in recovery from an eating disorder. You have to not only envision but start to create a life where there is no longer room for your disorder. The most important part is not to wait until you are recovered to start to do this, if you feel like you’re faking it just keep doing it! “Fake it till you make it” is a common expression, but I prefer “Fake it until you BECOME it” because if you create a life worth living, you will recover from your disorder. There is hope, and here are some ways I worked on changing my life, and you can start changing yours!
How will creating a life worth living help? Read this to find out, and then start to use the strategies below!
Job: it’s easier to create a life you want to be a part of when you have a job you like. You spend 40 hours a week there and how you feel about it has a major influence on your mood in other areas of your life.
Be true to you: Start to explore your likes and dislikes, yes you are allowed to have them! Say no to activities you do not really enjoy or feel pressured to attend and do more of the things you really enjoy! Do something that excites you or that you are passionate about.
Hobbies: Find something you like to do and… DO IT!! Whether it’s sports, reading, video games, board games, photography etc. I like to do jigsaw puzzles, play board games, do Sudoku and word games.
Friends: Spend more time with the people you love. Often eating disorders cause you to alienate friends and family in an attempt to remain safe and away from the pressures of food and socialization. Go out for coffee, for a walk, to the movies, anything! Spend time at first in non-food oriented activities and then move into meals or snacks as your progress!
Movement: When you are at a stable weight, it is important to bring some healthy and gentle movement into your life. Be cautious of the reasons for movement and try to keep calories and body image out of it. Join a recreation league for a sport you love, or try a new one! Go for walks in nature or ride your bike, try Tai Chi or Yoga. For me it’s about experiencing my body in a different and positive way. I do yoga and it helps me feel the strength of my healthy body and experience it differently, I am care for it, instead of torturing it.
Reason: Find a reason to get out of bed outside of yourself. I got a puppy out of a desperation to care for someone other than myself. I needed a reason to get up out of bed and do the things I needed to do for my own health. My puppy helped create a reason for me to go for walks (for reasons other than burning calories) and helped me feel needed. This isn’t an option for everyone, but it’s really helped me to feel important and needed, I joke that she’s my therapy dog, but I believe that she keeps me going.
Motivation: Create a vision for your life and make small steps towards it. Imagine what you would do with your life if your eating disorder weren’t a part of it – what could your future be? For me, I want desperately to have a family. I surround myself with reminders of the great joys that the future has in store for me.
Regularity: Find some form of consistency in your life. This is not always possible if you are in school or have a job with odd hours but try hard to order and schedule your life. Wake up at the same time, eat at the same times, go to bed at the same time. Routine takes the guesswork out of life and helps reduce anxiety, especially around meal times. It also helps you feel more in control of your life and more grounded.
Self Care: This is usually a pretty foreign subject for those with Eating Disorders. We are often so out of touch with our bodies and it’s needs, we have often spent so much time berating and abusing our bodies and minds that the thought of taking care of ourselves is completely new territory. Try some of the suggestions below to work on nurturing yourself (whether you feel you deserve it or not).
- Basics. These are things that people with eating disorders often neglect the most, but they are the most important ways to care for your body.
- Brush your teeth
- Wash your face
- Drink water
- Eat healthy nourishing foods and allow yourself to have treats. A balanced diet includes all foods.
- Get dressed instead of just putting clothes on
- Get enough sleep
- Recognize and respect your emotions
- Paint your nails
- Take a bath
- Watch a movie or TV show that makes you feel good (I like to watch Disney movies or watch kids TV shows on Netflix)
- Spend time with pets or children
- Go for a walk
- Get crafty! I like to crochet scarves and baby blankets! I usually have a few projects on the go in case I get bored and want to work on something else.
- Spend time styling your hair
- Light a candle that’s a scent you love
- Look at photos of baby animals (I’m partial to cute roulette, a website that rotates videos of adorable animals)
- Do nothing – yes, nothing. Meditate, watch the clouds, sit and watch the birds or lay down in the sun. Try to clear your mind and be present in the moment.