Once you have been through treatment for anorexia nervosa (AN), it’s so important to continue working towards recovery long after your last day of treatment at a higher level of care. It’s also important to support your own self-care throughout treatment, so you can heal in the best way possible.
This article will offer helpful tips as you work towards recovery from anorexia nervosa and strive for a healthier frame of mind.
Being self-critical goes hand-in-hand with eating disorders, but being hard on yourself is not going to help your recovery. All it will do is increase your feelings of shame and guilt, exacerbating an already difficult situation.
While it’s not always easy, try to stay positive and focus on all you have achieved rather than the old intrusive thoughts.
Affirmation exercises are a great tool for reprogramming your subconscious mind from thoughts that keep you attached to the eating disorder to thoughts that promote recovery. Positive affirmations involve taking positive statements of what you would like to manifest, and repeating them enough, so they are part of your regular way of thinking. Examples include:
During or after eating disorder treatment, it’s not unusual to slip back into your old thoughts and behaviors around disordered eating, especially when you’re feeling stressed. Just because you’re experiencing a lapse - either with the return of disordered eating habits or constant negative thoughts - it doesn’t mean that you’re failing or falling into a full relapse.
There is still recovery in relapse. A relapse gives you an opportunity to learn, grow, and gain strength. When you choose to keep going with your recovery despite a setback, you are proving to yourself how resilient you are.
You should know that relapses are common and if you do experience one, you’re not alone, even if it can feel like the loneliest place in the world. Never forget that you're worthy of recovery, so if you’re struggling with your old thoughts and behaviors, there is no shame in asking your loved ones or treatment providers for a little extra support.
Other methods you can use to help you manage any form of relapse include:
To support your recovery from anorexia nervosa, you may sometimes face situations that make you anxious. These may be things that you have been avoiding facing, such as eating certain foods, tolerating feeling full, and dealing with anxiety when you don’t exercise.
If you’re struggling with challenging yourself or facing your fears, talk to your treatment team about how to help you develop a plan to gradually face these situations. Also, don’t be afraid of asking a friend or loved one to do these challenging things with you as support.
Disordered eating behaviors, like those seen in anorexia nervosa, often develop as a way of coping with difficult thoughts and emotions. There are many effective coping methods that don’t involve resorting to acting on eating disorder behaviors Coping strategies anyone can use include:
One excellent tool to support your recovery from anorexia nervosa is the ability to self-soothe. If you’re able to self-soothe you'll be able to distract yourself from uncomfortable feelings, without resorting to disordered eating behaviors. Some suggestions for self-soothing include:
Recovering from an eating disorder like anorexia nervosa is not an easy process. Therefore, try to view your recovery journey as a progression and not perfection. Make sure you celebrate all of the small successes you experience along the way, such as when you utilize support instead of using behaviors associated with your eating disorder.
Reward these small successes by purchasing yourself a little gift, or take yourself on a trip to the cinema or to your favorite coffee shop for an hour. Celebrating your success will help build your confidence and self-esteem as you continue your recovery from anorexia nervosa. If you’d like additional support in treatment, or recovery from anorexia nervosa, Within Health is here to help.