Self Care: Making it a Priority
Do you find yourself turning to eating disorder behaviors during times of high stress instead of forms of self care? I have found myself having this conversation with many clients over the last few weeks. The eating disorder can provide comfort and familiarity when times are stressful. However, this comfort is short term and can lead down a lonely, dangerous path. I’ve really been working with clients the last few weeks to help build what I like to call a “self-care toolbox.”
Building Your “Self-Care Tool Box”
No matter how much we try to balance our days and regular meals and snacks, stress or upsetting situations can get the best of us and trigger ED thoughts and behaviors. So, I have been challenging my clients to build a “self-care toolbox.” What does this mean? Well, self care is doing something that is enjoyable to you. It is taking time each day to do something small that makes you feel good about yourself, brings you joy, and can help relieve stress. Now, think about a “toolbox.” There is never just one tool in a toolbox. You have to reach for different tools depending on what type of task your completing. So, having a self-care tool box means that you have different techniques to make yourself feel better. The eating disorder is technically a tool, however, it’s the type of tool that never really works. You keep having to tighten the screw over and over because it continues to come loose. Instead, you probably want to use a more reliable tool. And that’s what this blog is dedicated to… ways to find more reliable tools.
Firstly, I have to say it’s important to do some type of self-care each day. I like to think of it similar to a fire drill. You have fire drills so you know what to do in case there is a real fire. You want to practice self-care even when you’re not feeling stressed. So, when a difficult day comes, you have techniques that you are familiar with. Also, stress builds over time! I recommend to release a little bit of stress each day.
You may be thinking? How can I build a self-care tool box?
Well, here are 4 ideas to get you started:
Self care journal
Instead of keeping a food log, try keeping a self care journal! Each day write down some of the ways you were able to take care of yourself. It could be something like, “I honored my hunger and had an extra snack today. I also honored my fullness and was able to eat until I felt satisfied. I also spent 10 minutes reading a magazine during my lunch break.”
Self care checklist
Write down a list of ideas for self care. Put a little check mark when you try one of the ideas. Here are some examples of what to put on your checklist:
- Watching funny youtube videos (Mila is my favorite!)
- Practicing 5 minutes of deep breathing
- Reading a book
- Drawing or coloring
Take a few minutes to enjoy nature
Picking from a jar
I love the idea of creating a self care mason jar. What you can do, is write down a bunch of different self care ideas on small pieces of paper. Then, add them to a mason jar. When you need a break, pick one of the papers from the jar and follow the instructions! Of course, you can pick again if you would feel more inspired by another option.
Doing one different thing each week
Sometimes practicing new self care techniques can be stressful. You might want to try having choosing 1 self care technique and incorporate that at least 5 days of the week. This will help you get into a routine.
Time outside is a great way to enjoy being in the moment and relieve stress.
Self care calendar
We put everything else on our iPhones (or Androids), so why not also schedule in self care? Try to pencil in 15-20 minutes of self care and physically block it off on your schedule! If you can do every day, that’s great! I would aim for at least 5 times a week.
Being healthy is not just about what you are eating, but what you are doing to find happiness and manage stress and anxiety.
What other ideas do you have to add to your self-care list? Need more support with self care and eating? Struggling with an eating disorder? We can help. Contact us at 240-670- 4675 to find out more about our programs.