Recovering from an eating disorder requires a lot of strength, courage, and determination. Although you may want your life to be the way it was previous to the development of your eating disorder, this may not always be realistic. When treatment ends, it is time to overcome challenges independently. During this transition, it is normal to feel overwhelmed, anxious, as well as resistant to further changes. However, it is important to not give in to eating disorder behaviours during this shift, as recovery is imperative for your future health and well-being. Throughout this process, you will learn ways to rebuild your life with a new mindset that is not controlled by your eating disorder.
During recovery, it is crucial to develop and maintain a support system. Most individuals find it difficult to reach out – this is normal. Although it is important to be independent, it is okay to ask for help from others in times of need. Staying connected with those who are supportive and nurturing can help during difficult situations1. Your support system can consist of family members, friends, or even health care providers.
In order to prevent relapse, identifying triggers for your eating disorder is key. A trigger can consist of anything that may cause your disordered eating behaviours to reoccur1. Trying to identify your triggers can help in knowing when to not partake in certain activities. In order to do this, try to reflect on times when you’ve felt the urge to engage in disordered eating behaviours. Sometimes, a previous traumatic experience may be triggering, making it difficult to participate in social outings or activities. Making your support system aware of your triggers is also a good idea, as they will keep these triggers in mind when planning activities that involve you.
At the end of the day, it is crucial take care of your health and well-being. Remind yourself that you deserve to put time aside for self-care. Planning a time to relax can help in reducing stress. For those struggling with anxiety or stress, yoga or meditation are common practices to help with that2. Other relaxing activities can include painting, writing, or listening to music.
There may be times where we want to numb negative feelings with old habits. Flexibility plays an important role during recovery. The world is full of spontaneous and unexpected surprises that may catch you off guard. There are times where you may be triggered, or experience stress unexpectedly. If you do happen to relapse, try to not be so hard on yourself. Instead of dwelling on past experiences, you should learn from each experience (good or bad) and keep a positive perspective in order to move forward.
Never think you need to be perfect, and try not to expect life to be perfect too. Everyone experiences a different journey throughout recovery, and there will never be perfection in this experience. Throughout life, you will be faced with many obstacles, though you will need to stay positive, strong and resilient. Don’t let your eating disorder define you. By staying focused on making your journey through life positive, you can overcome your fears and take back your life from an eating disorder.
- Sclisizzi K, Wilton K, Jasper K. (2014). Managing Triggers while Recovering from an Eating Disorder. In National Eating Disorder Information Centre. Retrieved from http://nedic.ca/sites/default/files/files/Vol29No1Feb2014Triggers.pdf.
- Six relaxation techniques to reduce stress. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/six-relaxation-techniques-to-reduce-stress