Learning to Care for Yourself
By Jessica Carter
Over the past several month’s many homes have become multi-functional – they are now a home office, a classroom, a restaurant, a place for worship, and so much more. We are working harder to meet everyone’s needs, while often pushing our own needs further away. The new lack of structure combined with the additional pressures can cause some to turn to unhealthy coping behaviors that can often lead to an eating disorder.
The National Eating Disorders Association has reported an increase in eating disorders during the pandemic by up to 78% in the past six months. Along with this increase, Eating Disorders are also connected to other mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and substance use, which also continue to increase, as well. While taking a few minutes to ourselves during this unprecedented time might be perceived as selfish, the truth is, self-care is one of the most important things we can do for optimal physical, emotional, and psychological health, especially within an increasingly isolated world.
How do I practice self-care?
Self-care is a vital element of taking care of your whole body. While many may have the preconceived notion that self-care needs to be extravagant, it can be as simple as taking a walk, reading a book, repeating positive self-affirmations, or saying “no” to extracurricular requests. Let’s take a look at some self-care strategies to navigate the current pandemic and state of our world.
- Connect with Others. Although many people are still socially isolated, we can still safely connect to others. Take this time to step away from all the demands circling around you and celebrate the extra time you have been given with your loved ones, while also reaching out to those in which you may have lost touch. Taking the time to focus on conversations with others regarding positive topics and embracing this time of connection can help you and the person on the receiving end feel both validated and supported during this time of social isolation.
- Disconnect from technology. Technology: It’s all around you. With many offices, classrooms, and lecture halls, transitioning to the home, it is can be difficult to escape the information overload. Take some time to power off your cell phone, computer, television, or other technology. Utilize that time to pause and clear your mind of impeding distractions. This time of rest can simply be used to focus on you.
- Reframe your thinking. It is easy to let yourself focus on the negative things that are happening in our world, but we have the power to change our mindset. Thinking positively an impact our mood, our actions, and how others around us think and behave. It is simply the notion of changing the way we see the world. Sure, we all have our challenges and disappointments; however, we can change the way we think and behave by our curiosity to learn from these challenges and open our hearts and our minds to a positive outlook on the world.
- Enjoy the little things. Self-care can be something as simple as taking a pause from daily life. Something as simple as saying “no” to extra commitments, repeating positive self-affirmations, or simply taking a short, brisk walk to connect with nature, can help us find beauty in the little things that surround us. Have you ever just sat outside and listened to the wind blow, the birds chirp, or the way the crickets sing in rhythm as the seasons change? Now is certainly a great time to begin to embrace those little moments of pause and rest.
- Create a new routine. Our routines have greatly changed since the beginning of the pandemic, which can often lead to increased depression and anxiety. Think of your former routine. What are some things that you valued during that time? Maybe it was a cup of coffee at your favorite local coffee shop? Or the sound of the radio DJs as you tuned in to your favorite podcast as you drove to your destination.
Whatever it may be, how can you incorporate those valued instances into your new routine to continue to care for yourself and what new things have you found that you enjoy about this new landscape? Maybe it’s the 20 minute walk you take during your lunch break or a mindfulness exercises late in the afternoon. It may even be working outside on your patio, while also continuing to listen to your favorite podcast. Take the time to slow down, breathe deeply, and be present in the moment.
- Know that you are not alone. Remember that it is perfectly okay to feel overwhelmed during this unprecedented time. So many people are feeling a similar way. Remember, our routines have been turned upside down and none of us have dealt with anything like this before. We are all dealing with these challenges in different, but similar ways. As humans, we crave connection and with the continued social isolation, it can continue to feel as though we are alone, when in fact, we are all in this together.
- Ask for help. Most importantly, ask for help. If you are using unhealthy coping strategies to deal with your emotions or if your feelings of anxiety and stress are becoming persistent and interfering with your daily functioning, now is the time to reach out for help.
How do I get help?
If you are struggling, you are not alone. Toledo Center for Eating Disorders offers evidence-based care to individuals who are suffering from an eating disorder. Using an individualized treatment plan, we offer individual, group, and family support that contributes to the overall health and wellness of each client. We truly care and understand the challenges that our clients and their families face each day, which is why, our staff is dedicated to providing compassionate, customer-driven care as you progress through recovery.
Remember, self-care is not selfish. But rather, it is an intentional practice vital to helping each of us cope with daily challenges, especially during a global pandemic.
To learn more about Toledo Center for Eating Disorders or if you or someone you know is suffering from an Eating Disorder, we are here and ready to help. Contact our Admission Team at One Call, Many Solutions at 765-641-0022 or feel free to complete our contact form.