benefits of self care
It is no secret that eating disorder treatment can be extremely stressful. It affects both the physical and mental well being of you and loved ones. Self care can act as a calming counterbalance while you work to develop new coping skills.
It has been clinically proven that practicing and engaging in a self care routine reduces or eliminates stress, anxiety, depression, and increases happiness (1).
While society today portrays self care as extravagant and expensive we are here to tell you that it does not have to be that way. Self care in eating disorder treatment (or in general) can be simple and accommodating to your schedule. And, in fact, it should be! The more self care fits into your every day schedule the more likely you are to stick with it.
Now let's crack open your journal and dive into some more specific ideas below...
5 self care tips for eating disorder treatment
Meditation is a process of redirecting one’s thoughts. It has many benefits but most importantly, it helps improve one’s self-awareness and self-esteem. It can help provide a sense of calm, peace and balance.
Practicing meditation as self care during an eating disorder treatment is a helpful coping mechanism. It helps develop mental awareness, a relaxing response, and helps manage triggers of destructive eating behaviors.
You can incorporate meditation into your routine in several ways:
This involves you just focusing on your breath to relieve those overwhelming thoughts. Get comfortable and rest your hands on your stomach. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds. Hold for four. Exhale for four. Repeat this four times or until you can feel your body start to relax.
This involves one being aware of their body and mind and being focused on the now while also acknowledging and accepting their thoughts and feelings. Get comfortable and get in position. Focus on your breath and bring attention to the sensations in your body. Bring your thoughts back to center once it starts to wander.
This is a class you can join or even a YouTube video you can follow along with and is often led by an instructor and can take at least 5-10 minutes of your day. During eating disorder treatment, this could be something to participate in before or after a meal/snack. It is a great way to engage in this practice to release thoughts on a busy day.
This is a different form of meditation where you don’t need to get comfortable in one position and focus on your breath. It focuses on physical movements to help focus on the movement themselves and bring inner peace within yourself. Tai Chi and Qigong are examples of movement meditations that you can practice, either by going to a class or through YouTube. Make sure to check in with your treatment team when integrating in movement and are engaging in movement that aligns with the Safe Exercise at Every Stage Guidelines!
Affirmations are a form of self care that involves self-talks or positive statements that are helpful to overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. It can shift the neural pathways of the brain that make you happy and positive.
By simply saying, “I deserve my own love and compassion”, “Things won’t feel this way forever”, “I will recover”, “Tomorrow is a new day”, helps reconstruct your mindset into a positive one.
During eating disorder treatment - try writing down a few affirmations that resonate with you. From here, practice saying them out loud on a daily basis. These can act as a counterbalance to some intrusive eating disorder thoughts to help keep you grounded.
Journaling can be an essential self care tool to practice during eating disorder treatment as it is a way to interpret and process one’s emotions when a therapist is not around. It is a therapeutic practice of writing down one’s thoughts and feelings. This can help the brain regulate emotions. It provides clarity to your thoughts and how you feel and clarity of yourself.
Journaling can be done by simply setting aside a few minutes of your day. It can be done in a journal or scrap of paper. Anywhere where your hands and pencil are comfortable.
Studies have been shown that spending more than two hours outside improves both physical and mental health (2,3). Being outside helps improve sleep, decreases levels of stress and anxiety while boosting mood.
When times are tough in eating disorder treatment, try to schedule in some daily nature time. Whether it is a gentle nature-filled walk, playing with your dog - anything that will make you enjoy being outdoors.
Sleep is a self care tool that plays a big role in how you feel mentally and physically. Especially during eating disorder treatment when your body is going through significant physical repair. Getting enough sleep is highly important.
Getting adequate z's helps improve concentration, mood, one’s health, and decision-making. Poor sleep has been found to increase negative emotional responses to stress. It also contributes to the worsening of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Overall, teens need 8-10 hours of sleep and adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep.
nourishrx can support you with self care
We understand that it takes you intentionally carving out time for self care throughout the day, which is not always easy. Being able to recognize the importance of self care in eating disorder treatment can be a way you are able to connect to your body throughout the recovery process.
Another form of self care that is not included above is scheduling and following through with your treatment team appointments. Each member of your team is there to support you throughout eating disorder treatment. If you are feeling stuck please drop us a line or consider adding the Eating Disorder PATH - a 24/7 ED support to your recovery process.
1: Margo A. Halm; Relaxation: A Self-Care Healing Modality Reduces Harmful Effects of Anxiety. Am J Crit Care 1 March 2009; 18 (2): 169–172. doi: https://doi.org/10.4037/ajcc2009867
2: White, M.P., Alcock, I., Grellier, J. et al. Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. Sci Rep 9, 7730 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-44097-3
3: Schertz, K. E., & Berman, M. G. (2019). Understanding Nature and Its Cognitive Benefits. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 28(5), 496–502. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721419854100