The process of accepting your body while recovering from an eating disorder isn’t an easy process. Some days you’ll feel that you’ve made a lot of progress, and other days you feel discouraged and frustrated by falling back into old patterns.
Going to therapy helps, but for the rest of the day and week, the healing process can feel lonely and overwhelming. For those times when you’re struggling on your own, it’s a good idea to keep a few things in mind to encourage a healthy perspective and compassion for one’s self.
The following 6 ways to practice self-love during eating disorder recovery will help get you through those rough periods that all of us have run into at some time or another.
1. Treat yourself like a friend.
You may not even notice how much criticism you put yourself through on a daily basis because it feels so natural, especially if you’re in recovery for an eating disorder. This is an old habit that must be addressed before any healing can take place.
A good way to counter all that self-criticism is to treat yourself like a good friend. This means changing your inner dialogue to words of compassion, encouragement, and tolerance. Give yourself credit for the progress you’ve made so far in your recovery, and then continue the course by treating yourself with kindness and respect. Practicing mindful meditation, accepting your flaws, and reaching out to others for support can be helpful tools for accomplishing this.
2. Be aware and critical of how the media affects your outlook.
Everything from magazines to advertisements, to movies, and television shows portray unrealistic expectations of how a woman’s body should look. Keep an eye out for how these media outlets perpetuate these unrealistic ideals. If you have a favorite magazine or tv show that you realize is doing this, cut them from your life and then try to find a better replacement if possible.
3. Go through your wardrobe.
You know all those clothes you’ve been saving for that day in the future when you’d finally be skinny enough to wear them? Well, it’s time to throw them out. Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself isn’t going to help the recovery process. Accept your body the way it is today and wear the clothes that make you look great right now.
4. Give up a little control.
In order to make room for change, we need to try something new. This is especially scary for someone who’s healing from an eating disorder because so much of it was about having control and sticking to a rigid routine.
Some small things you can try are ordering a different dish at your favorite restaurant, skipping your usual workout, or indulging in a favorite dessert. You’ll see that your world will indeed not collapse and life will go on. These small changes will open the way for bigger things in the long run.
5. You don’t always have to look perfect.
This is another challenge for someone who is used to having total control over the way they look. Try wearing different clothing for one day, or go out without checking your body in the mirror first. You’ll find that it’s not so scary and that others aren’t judging you as much as you thought.
6. Look for negative influences in your life.
This could be in the form of a friend who encourages body shaming, someone at the gym who criticizes you for not working out enough, or anyone else who is consciously or unconsciously encouraging your eating disorder. Cutting them out if possible or distancing yourself will make a big difference in the way you feel.