Hey, how are you holding up? If you are anything like most of the people I know, my guess is that you are starting to really feel this experience more deeply now than at the beginning. What once felt maybe even like a nice break from all the pressures to be certain places at certain times was replaced with a bit more downtime. As we enter into our 5thweek of social distancing, many people are finding what once felt like an exhale, now feels like depression.
Times feel tough right now. All of us are forced to tolerate ambiguity which, for most people, myself included, is not something we are very good at. But in these uncertain challenging times there are a few things I know for sure.
- We Get To Choose How We Treat Ourselves: Just because life feels hard right now, doesn’t mean we have to be hard on ourselves. I think if there is any gift this situation affords us it is to practice being gentle, practice dropping our unhealthy expectations and practice treating ourselves like we are someone we actually give a s*%^ about. Forgive the language but if there is anything I have learned over this past decade it is that individuals with eating disorders treat garbage on the street with more concern than they treat themselves. Now is the time to choose differently. To make space for the feelings that are begging to be attended to. To start practicing the type of self-care where we do the hard things that actually improve our lives in the big picture (while also doing the easy things that make small moments feel a bit lighter or happier).
- Prioritize Your Mental Health: A lot of the focus right now is on what we need to do to keep ourselves physically safe. This is important and for good reason given the severity of Covid and the importance of protecting ourselves, our community and especially our vulnerable populations. And this is also really freaking hard. Isolation isn’t healthy for anyone so we need to make sure that while we prioritize our physical health we also prioritize our mental health. I think it is exceptionally important that you spend some time looking at what you truly need to be well. Keeping yourself physically safe at the cost of your mental health doesn’t really make a lot of sense. This isn’t my way of saying throw a party or defy what the provincial, federal and WHO recommendations are. It is my way of saying, if you feel you need to connect to parts of your past life to keep yourself safe and well then I think you need to look at ways to make that safely happen. For example, I noticed myself feeling like I was getting pretty down. I am not someone who does bored very well and it was starting to make me overall just feel like I had a low mood. I hadn’t left my house for the past 4 weeks with the exception of going on the exact same walk every day. Matt came for a walk one day and we went to the local coffee shop (that I didn’t even know was still open) and walked around a different neighborhood. To be honest it felt like a game changer for me. I instantly felt better, and it turned my mood around pretty drastically. I have a client who decided to meet up with a friend for a socially distant walk. It broke through her isolation and lifted her spirits immensely, which gave her the space to feel like she could keep going. Sometimes these little things are all it takes to make life feel a bit more normal and for us to feel a bit more hopeful. Whatever it is for you, find it and honor it. Your mental health matters just as much as your physical health so don’t forget to prioritize that in the ways you need in order to stay well.
- Create A Story Of Hope: It would easy right now to have your mind live in the statement “what’s the point” especially when it comes to your recovery. While I am in complete support of giving yourself permission to throw a temporary pity party, something we all need to do at times, I think it is critical during this time that you pull yourself out of it. When life feels hard it is imperative that we act in our best interest and remind ourselves that life will get better if we choose to make it better. Staying hopeful makes all the hard times worth it and it will act as a firm boundary against your eating disorder’s demands. Now is not the time to throw in the towel on yourself by allowing the eating disorder to defeat you. During challenging times, I often tell my clients not to worry about taking one step forward, and instead to just focus on staying putting and not taking steps back. There is so much more to you than this illness and complete recovery is possible if you take it one hopeful day at a time. Life really will get better and I can’t wait to give you a virtual hug when we are on the other side of this. Hang on, I promise you, we, and most importantly you, can get there.
Remember, one of the most important things you can do right now is stay connected and make yourself realize that you are not alone. Let me know how you are when you have a moment, I would love to connect.