If you’re working on your recovery, you may find some days feel overwhelming. This is completely normal and you’re not alone. Here are some of the strategies I used – and continue to use – to help me through those days. I hope they help you too.
1. You are not alone
It may sound cliché, but I cannot stress this enough. Seeking out connection is one of the best things you can do in recovery. From online support groups through to a friend who just gets it. Surrounding yourself with understanding people really helps when it all feels a bit much. If you’re not in a position to seek out that kind of connection, you can try books and blogs. Hearing stories of other people’s path to recovery can be an absolute treasure during this time. For me, reading about people living their best life, disorder free, really helped give me hope when I needed it most.
2. Pause and take stock
Take a moment to zoom out from the headspace you’re in. Remind yourself that these feelings are temporary and reassure yourself that they will pass. Struggles in recovery, especially in the first few months can feel incredibly painful, but in those dark times I invite you to remind yourself that this is just one chapter in your long, beautiful and full life that’s waiting for you. This is not to sound patronising or take away from the veracity of feelings you’re experiencing but simply to give perspective. I often found a good way to zoom out was to visualise the future and even journal about what the future would look like and how I would feel once I was stable in my recovery.
3. Small daily habits are key
I don’t know about you but sometimes I would feel overwhelmed by all the things I needed to change about my routine in recovery. I’d lived with my disordered habits for so long that I had forgotten how to live a ‘normal’ life. What kept me grounded and helped establish a routine was focusing on small daily habits. Each morning I would journal on waking, stay off my phone (aka social media) then get up, make my bed and put on some clothes I laid out the night before. During this time, I banned myself from body checking and scrutinising my appearance. I would ensure I had breakfast before leaving the house. I made my focus laser sharp, once one step was done it was onto the next with no time to question or dwell in between. It served as a constant in my recovery and those small habits are something I still do today.
4. Think about everything the disorder takes from you
Sometimes in moments of overwhelm the negative can motivate us. The next time those recovery wobbles rear their head I invite you to think about all the things your disorder takes from you. Ask yourself if that is the person you want to be. Maybe you can no longer comfortably attend social activities or maybe your relationship with others is strained because you’re always preoccupied with your body. Those things were both true for me and in moments of overwhelm I would remind myself that I don’t want those things for my life, that’s not who I want to be. I know this might seem like a really hard task. And I don’t want you to guilt yourself. What I want you to derive from this exercise is strength. Think about all those things your disorder takes from you and say NO, you will not have power over me, I am strong enough to win (I know you are, and I am cheering you on).
5. Consciously distract yourself
When everything is feeling too much and those nasty voices crop up, I invite you to consciously distract yourself. I don’t suggest it as your go-to coping mechanism, but I personally found distracting myself with a bit of cleaning or re-organising whilst listening to a podcast incredibly therapeutic. You might want to try and ignite love for an old hobby, maybe even something you enjoyed as a kid or even start a new hobby. Sometimes in the midst of our disorders we come so far from who we are it’s hard to remember what we once enjoyed for fun. A month into recovery I realised I couldn’t even remember what I liked anymore so I treated this time as an exploration and tried some different things… like cross stitch (which – by the way – I’m terrible at!) but it took me out of the moment and that’s something I’m grateful for.
Don’t forget, Talk ED is here for you. Why not book a 1:1 support call with a member of our peer support team. We will listen without judgement and help you with some practical strategies to move forward.