As the final entry of their Student Blog Series, Durham University Beat Society shares their advice on how to keep your eating disorder recovery on track at university, so you can revel in this time as much as you can, as your authentic self…

Over the last two months, we have talked about the experience of being a student at this time of year, and have acknowledged the impending changes and opportunity this coming autumn can bring. Perhaps, you are only now coming to realise your summer holidays are ending and that preparing to move away and adapting to a new routine at university, with new people in a different environment, seems all the more real.

Maybe, you finally feel you have a grip on your eating disorder recovery and are concerned that change may hinder your progress. Alternatively, you may look to university as a symbol of reinvention, to rediscover the “you” your eating disorder has hidden away for so long. This all may bring up feelings of nervousness, excitement, or even fear. Know that if you resonate with any of these, that is ok.

However you have turned up today and no matter your experience, your are completely welcome here.

We understand how daunting the next few months may feel, so that is why we have turned to our wonderful friends at Durham University Beat Society, to offer their peer support and guidance.

1. Stay resilient

Try to remember that eating disorder recovery looks different on everyone. For many, recovery is not a straight line. There might be bumps and twists along the way and is completely okay.

If you slip back into an old behaviour or habit, it doesn’t mean you have messed up your recovery. In fact, relapsing can be a very natural process of you navigating change along your journey; it is how you recover from these moments that count. Try to grant yourself compassion in relapses – you are only human. We explore this more in a previous blog.

To help you at these times, it is important to reflect on your motivation to change and to focus on what you will gain by moving forward and towards a new life that has more to offer you than your eating disorder. Think of all the possibilities the future, recovered you can do!

You can certainly get back on track and make more progress towards an eating disorder-free life!

2. Find your recovery motivation

It might be harder to pursue recovery some days than others. That’s natural.

Consider finding sources of recovery motivation that you can look to on the days that you’re struggling. For example, you could make a list of the reasons you want to recover from your eating disorder, or you could make a playlist of uplifting songs. (One of our Durham BEAT Exec recommends ‘Victoria’s Secret’ by Jax.)

3. Reduce any triggers

Taking positive action to eliminate certain triggers from your life can make it easier to stay on track with eating disorder recovery.

For example, you may consider throwing out your scales; selling or donating clothes that don’t fit; taking off your Fitbit; or unfollowing social media accounts that are body-focused and encourage comparisons. A good tip for Instagram is to click ‘not interested’ when posts come up on your feed about weight or diet, so you can see less of these posts.

You can also prevent ads relating to weight/diet on Instagram! Here’s how to – a post by body-positive influencer, Katie Budenberg.

“Recovery is a mindset, and it’s possible to cultivate it wherever you are. If there’s one thing to pack in your suitcase to take to uni – it’s self-confidence and belief that you can, and will, recover, and this university chapter might just be the place that you do it in.” Student Guest Blogger

4. Establish a support system

If possible, try to establish a support system. You don’t have to face recovery alone, and asking for support is one of the bravest things you can do. Letting a few people you trust know that you are recovering from an eating disorder and may need some extra support might be a good idea, such as trusted family, friends, doctors, therapists and teachers.

We explore how you can communicate with loved ones about our feelings and eating disorder, here. Below are some questions to remind yourself –

  • What do I want to communicate today? What do I want heard?
  • What are my expectations from the conversation?
  • How much can I expect them to understand/not understand?
  • After the conversation, how do I want to suggest communicating going forwards?
  • What do I do if the conversation doesn’t quite go to plan?

For friends reading this, who are supporting their loved one with an eating disorder, we also have a blog post for you, here.

5. Remember, set and maintain your boundaries

Know that you are allowed to set boundaries to support your eating disorder recovery. It’s ok to let family and friends know if you are uncomfortable with ‘diet talk’, or even if you would like to say ‘no’ to events that would trigger you.

As Kendra, Orri’s Head of Therapies, has said before, “if people around you are reinforcing a way of speaking about food or body shape that is triggering or undermining your important work in recovery, speak up. Often people don’t know they’re doing it – so you’re giving them a helping hand!”

“Despite being challenging at times, university is a wonderful means of being connected to something bigger than your eating disorder. It provides an opportunity to experience new surroundings, meet and be amongst likeminded people, as well as offering you the means to develop your passions and skills for your degree.” Orri Instagram Supporter

We appreciate the support Durham University Beat Society continues to offer the student and Orri community. If you have found their content useful and would like to keep updated with their events, we invite you to follow them on Instagram.

If you are a part of a wellbeing or eating disorder society at university and feel you would like to feature on Orri’s website, with your peer support and guidance, email ask@orri-uk.com.

Do you have any questions? Get in touch with us!