Here are 10 tips to help you maintain your eating disorder recovery during school
ESTABLISH A SUPPORT SYSTEM
One of the best things you can do for yourself when trying to balance recovering from an eating disorder and heading back-to-school is create a reliable support network. This can be a family member, a close friend, or even a school faculty member. Be direct and inform them how they can best support you during the day. For example, eating lunch with a friend, teacher, counselor, or family member can help hold you accountable.
FIND NEW WAYS TO CONNECT
This school year will likely include more technology than in previous years. Challenge yourself to use screen-time mindfully and find new ways to connect with loved ones, yourself, and your recovery. This might look like turning screens off altogether and spending time outdoors, connecting with someone on FaceTime rather than scrolling through TikTok, or utilizing recovery-focused Instagram accounts like @covid19eatingsupport to offer meal support.
KNOW WHEN TO TAKE A BREAK
Social gatherings, clubs, sports, homework, family obligations. Oftentimes, heading back to school comes with additional duties and responsibilities. Increased anxiety and stress can often lead to the use of eating disorder behaviors. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to take a step back. Make recovery your priority, even if it means temporarily stepping away from some of your other engagements. Remember your mental health matters, especially when navigating the recovery process for an eating disorder!
CREATE A SCHEDULE
With increased responsibilities during the school year, having a schedule tailored to your recovery needs is a must! Work with your support system to make a weekly schedule that will help keep you accountable and reduce eating disorder behaviors, like skipping meals.
MAKE TIME FOR THE THINGS YOU ENJOY
Don’t be afraid to schedule your self-care. It can be easy for it to fall by the wayside when there are so many other responsibilities on your plate. Proactively planning self-care and wellness activities that support your ongoing eating disorder recovery is the best way to ensure it, and you, don’t get left out.
KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS
While eliminating or avoiding all triggers is unrealistic, being able to reduce the impact they have on you is a great goal to work toward. You can do this by acknowledging what your triggers are and having a plan in place to help you cope. Check out our next tip on creating a toolkit for success!
CREATE A TOOLKIT FOR SUCCESS
Identify what coping mechanisms and grounding techniques work best for you in difficult or triggering situations is key for successful eating disorder recovery. From engaging in a deep breathing exercise, journaling, or calling your support person, having a few of these techniques ready to go will help you defuse difficult situations.
Boundaries are an act of self-love and are essential for sustainable recovery! Establishing boundaries with your family and friends puts you in control and shows others how you want to be treated.
CHECK-IN WITH YOURSELF IF YOU PLAN TO RETURN TO SCHOOL SPORTS
For some, the beginning of a new school year also means the return of school sports. With the support of family, your outpatient team, and your coaches, returning to sports can be an exciting step in recovery. Prioritize checking-in with yourself and be honest with your supports about how you are doing.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SEEK ADDITIONAL SUPPORT
You don’t have to navigate this back-to-school transition on your own! Connect with a school counselor, outpatient therapist, or eating disorder recovery program that works with your school schedule. They can help you create an ongoing plan to maintain your recovery and support you through any setbacks.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, please know help is just a call/click away. EDCare’s Evening Intensive Outpatient Program (EIOP) is a great option for students who are seeking additional support with limited disruption to their daily schedules. CLICK HERE to find a location near you.