The summer months can be a challenging time for people suffering with eating disorders. Calendars can get busier as people take advantage of the sun, and body image concerns may increase as we require a different wardrobe or feel pressured to join in with summer trends.
Here are 5 things to keep in mind as we soak up the last few weeks of summer…
Your recovery comes first
Your recovery comes first, meaning, when social invitations (from family and/or friends) become too much and you feel your recovery being challenged, you can say no. Your loved ones should support your decision in the knowledge that it’s helping you in the long-run. Give yourself permission to focus on yourself and do what’s right for your journey.
Keep an eye on the critical voice
It’s sometimes helpful to distinguish between the two ‘voices’ in recovery: the critical voice (the eating disorder voice) and the well voice (your recovery voice).
Summertime ‘norms’ can often awaken moments of self-criticism, particularly when it comes to body image or pressures to socialise. It’s important to be mindful of how an eating disorder may translate our experiences and provide us with a different – and possibly unhelpful – interpretation.
Recognise when your critical voice is getting louder and remember that it is not your voice, it is the voice of the eating disorder, and it’s up to you how you respond and listen to it. Rather than dismiss the voice, be curious about what’s going on for you and remember that it will pass. By being curious, we’re accepting our current situation and working ‘with’ ourselves.
You may wish to do an exercise where you write down what the critical voice is saying in your head on one page, and on the other page write loving and kind responses from your ‘well’ voice to each so-called criticism. This helps to nurture and strengthen a ‘well’ voice that turns down the volume of the eating disorder voice.
Check in with yourself
Similar to above, throughout your recovery it’s important to check in with yourself. This means taking a moment to reflect on how you are feeling – in your body and mind – in the present, and respond to any needs or feelings that you identify.
By doing so, we develop a resilient and accepting mindset that encourages working ‘with yourself’ in your recovery – as opposed to against yourself. The best thing you can do is to be kind to yourself whilst battling an eating disorder.
There’s a recovery community you can reach out to
You are not alone with your eating disorder. There are many people on a similar journey to you who are willing to offer their support as well as many professionals who are available to help. If and when things get challenging, know that it’s okay to reach out.
Recovery is all about developing self-care practices that reflect your sense of self-worth and self-love. Part of looking after yourself is by knowing that it’s okay to lean on others when times get tough. Eating disorders thrive of shame and isolation – don’t let them!
Remember that you’re on your journey, even when things get challenging
Recovery isn’t a linear path – there are good days and bad days, just as there would be for someone not suffering with an eating disorder.
Having a tough day does not mean that you’re going backwards – rather, the mere fact that you can recognise it as a tough day means that you’re still fighting and on your journey.
Be honest with yourself about your needs. Give yourself permission to communicate and reach out to those who feel safe and know that every day that you choose recovery is a triumph and you should be proud of that.