Self-care seems to be a running theme in our society right now, and for good reason. When so many incidents, situations and experiences threaten to rob us of our peace and security, it becomes more important than ever to make sure we continue to set aside time for ourselves in order to restore and strengthen one’s peace of mind.
Eating disorder treatment is one such experience that requires self-care practices throughout. It might be tempting to think that the treatment program itself will do everything needed to take care of you. While this is mostly true, you should absolutely take the time away from the treatment schedule to focus on some self-care in order to reduce stress, regain peace and even increase productivity.
In eating disorder treatment, many of the activities are planned out and mandatory for patients, but not all of them. In addition, casually planned hangouts with others in treatment are bound to occur. Also, if you’re part of an outpatient treatment program and returning home every evening, you’re likely to have other commitments as well. No matter what is planned, feel the freedom to turn them down and feel no guilt in doing so.
During treatment, if you’re stressed, overwhelmed or overstretched, you’ll get less from treatment than if you were fully energized and rested. One sure way of resting and restoring energy is politely declining invitations from which you would experience no joy.
Build a puzzle
Puzzles offer a peaceful step away from the business of life by providing an activity that focuses the mind on the task at hand and little else. It exercises the brain in a creative way, asking you to explore and discover the pieces while creating a unique image. You can sit in silence, put on some peaceful ambient music or dialogue quietly with a friend, if you choose. Depending on the difficulty, you can return to the unfinished puzzle at a later time, giving you something to look forward to at the end of a busy day or difficult treatment session.
Journaling offers a way of exploring your thoughts and feelings in a concrete way. By writing down your experiences, your joys and sorrows, your victories and setbacks, you can flesh out your emotions by seeing them in ink. It may help provide you with an alternative perspective, offering some good time of processing what’s going on in treatment, but also things unrelated to treatment. Perhaps you use your journal also as a sketchbook, drawing doodles of your experience of life; maybe you write poetry; it could even be the start of a fiction novel. After all, it’s your journal, so do with it what you will.
Practice a task mindfully
One aspect of mindfulness is experiencing a moment using all five senses and letting it occur and pass without casting assumptions or judgment on it. Practicing a task mindfully — be it folding laundry, making the bed, typing out an email, walking through a park or eating a meal — has the benefits of centering you in the present moment, grounding you in reality and letting you feel the freedom to experience it without expectations.
Go to bed early
Sleep is one of the best ways of taking care of yourself, and yet it’s frequently disregarded as unimportant or a low priority. Without a good night’s rest, productivity levels suffer, you have little to no energy to do things, you can become irritable and even your immune system becomes compromised. So if you feel the effects of lack of sleep, reserve the time needed to get to bed early. Curl up with a book (no screens!) in bed to quiet your mind and clock out even before 10 p.m., and don’t feel bad about it.
Pray or meditate
Spirituality for many is an important aspect of their recovery, as it gives purpose to suffering, a goal to strive towards and a knowledge of a higher power working for their good. Spirituality doesn’t necessarily mean religion, but rather is a practice of being peacefully present to this higher power and becoming grounded in the peace and hope it provides. For some, this might be prayer or attending church; for others, it might be meditation, time spent in nature or even music.
Nothing allows you to escape reality as healthier and thoroughly as a good novel. Whether you like fantasy, mystery, nonfiction or biographies, reading doubles as quiet time and educational time, even if the book you’re reading is fiction. Books exercise the mind, eliminate time spent scrolling through a newsfeed and provide much needed silence at intervals throughout the day.
Caring for yourself
Taking the brave step of enrolling in eating disorder treatment is a monumental achievement in taking care of yourself, but it shouldn’t be the first and final one. During the challenges of treatment, it’s vital for your mental and physical health to continue setting time aside for activities and hobbies you enjoy and which rest and reset your mind and spirit. To speak with a counselor more about self-care, or to talk with admissions about treatment enrollment, contact Seeds of Hope today at 610-644-6464.