Summertime is almost here and with it comes plenty of gatherings, events, and activities. There are festivities to keep you busy all summer long from pool parties to backyard barbecues, holiday gatherings to family vacations, and more. It’s a time to get together with friends and family for days under the sun, filled with fun and relaxation.
When you’re in eating disorder recovery, though, summer isn’t always as carefree as some people make it out to be. These fun events are filled with potential triggers that could set you on edge and challenge your recovery. You might be tempted to avoid the summer festivities that await but there are ways you can manage your ED recovery this summer and still have fun.
1. Write down a summer “bucket list” and make a plan
You still have some time to make a plan before summer officially arrives! Write out a list of things you’d like to do, see, or accomplish this summer. Separate them and take on a few things each month. It helps when you have a plan in place, so you not only have some direction but also some fun things to look forward to.
2. Create a flexible routine you can stick to
Your mental health flourishes when you have consistency in your life. Unexpected things raise your stress levels and when stress rises, you’re at a greater risk of relapse. The more you have a routine for your days and weeks, the fewer unexpected stressors you deal with. Your routine should allow for some flexibility but it’s good to have a general outline.
3. Don’t neglect your self-care
Don’t let summer be the reason you push your self-care to the side. Taking care of yourself is a critical component of ED recovery. Make sure you leave time each day to do something that connects you with yourself and makes you feel calm and at ease. Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s necessary for your well-being.
4. Remember that a “summer body” is a false ideal
Summer is also the time of year when social media increases the pressure on individuals in ED recovery. The idea of a summer body pops up everywhere, from company ads to your friends’ feeds. Try to remember that a “summer body” is only a false idea created to sell products.
5. Find fun outfits that help you feel your best
Certain types of clothing can leave you feeling exposed, anxious, and even symptomatic. Don’t feel forced to wear things that make you feel uncomfortable. You can find all sorts of styles both in-store and online to fit your tastes. Put together outfits that are fun and help you feel your best.
6. Stay connected with your support system
Surround yourself with your support system this summer and reach out when you need help. This includes friends, family, your therapist or old treatment team if possible. Let people know if and when you’re feeling uncomfortable or struggling with negative thoughts. The more connected you are to your support system, the stronger you’ll feel this summer.
7. Bring an understanding friend with you
If you have an event or party that you feel nervous about attending, bring an understanding friend with you. Let them know you are nervous to go alone. Ask them to serve as a source of support throughout the event and maybe even after if needed. If you aren’t able to find someone to attend, see if you can find someone to at least be available by phone during that time.
8. Pack safe snacks and bring them with you
Events with food can be another source of stress and anxiety when you’re in ED recovery. Packing safe snacks and bringing them with you to the event is a great way to prepare yourself. It keeps you from relying on whatever is available and ending up with only trigger foods there to eat.
9. Say no if you need to
There’s nothing wrong with declining an invitation to an event if you don’t feel comfortable attending. You’re allowed to say no; you don’t need to go to every event you’re asked to attend. Additionally, some days you may feel less capable of handling things than others. Be gentle with yourself on these difficult days and allow yourself the space to do things that are right for you.
10. Seek additional help if you need it
You may reach a point where you’re at risk of a relapse this summer. If you hit this breaking point, seek additional help. There’s nothing wrong with seeking professional help if the need for it arises. You need to do what’s best for you this summer and if attending treatment will help, there are options available to you.
Toledo Center is a specialized eating disorder treatment facility located in Ohio. We work with women and men battling the difficult reality of an eating disorder and help them regain control over their minds and their lives. If you’re interested in learning more about getting help for your ED, give us a call or submit a contact form today!