Smart Swap: Switching negative behaviours to positive behaviours

Our client, Emily, shares how she discovered self-care rituals that support her recovery journey…

Living with an eating disorder is very repetitive, boring and exhausting. When I first started treatment with The Recover Clinic, the concept of self-care was a little confusing. Surely, that’s what I was striving for? I was so obsessed with self image that my weekends consisted of shopping and getting some sort of beauty treatment to ‘better’ myself. But it was never good enough. The clothes would be returned and it became a vicious cycle.

Taking a step back I thought to myself: “how does this make me feel?”. The answer was, quite frankly, shit. It’s taken time to replace the negative behaviours fuelling my eating disorder with positive ones, but I’ve now found behaviours that feel safe and familiar. Little by little, I came up with some ideas that didn’t feel too overwhelming:

  • I found a short morning meditation on YouTube which I’m able to practice daily followed by some gentle stretching
  • I joined the local library and read books I enjoy
  • I downloaded Meetup, and found local groups to join in with alongside people who have similar interests to me
  • I listen to inspirational podcasts
  • I’ve taken up weekly music lessons
  • I take time in nature, walking my dog and yes – occasionally hugging a tree!

The shopping and other eating disorder behaviours are slowly diminishing as I’m filling my spare time with ‘real’ self-caring activities that make me feel good.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a gradual process that I’m still working on. I’ve lowered my expectations and I’m challenging my perfectionism by approaching these new strategies with curiosity, and preparing myself that I’ll get things wrong sometimes.

Now I look at my mistakes as blessings that I have learnt from. The crippling eating disorder shell I’ve built around myself is slowly being smashed down, and I’m beginning to experience life in a way I never could have imagined.

What’s next?

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