I hope your week is starting off on a wonderful note and that those who live in Vancouver have been enjoying the amazing weather. Often in my counselling practice I see people who are highly anxious and who feel, because of their eating disorder, overwhelmed and afraid to take a step. I often get asked, what can I do when my world is spinning, or when I am staring at my plate of food either terrified to take a bite or, on the flip side, alarmed by the realization that I just binged and didn’t even realize what I was doing until it was over. My answer for these moments is to tell yourself to breathe. Just Breathe. Nothing less and nothing more.
When we are being over run by our eating disorder our nervous system is on overdrive and we are looking for a fix to make those feelings go away, something to make us feel better. Because of how engrained the pattern is typically we turn to eating disorder behaviours (restricting, purging, bingeing, extreme unhealthy guilt, exercising, etc) and we stop ourselves from actually taking care of ourselves.
Taking time to breathe in these moments actually takes us out of the fight or flight response that our body is in and allows us to calm our central nervous system. Breathing helps to balance and stabilize our body and our mind. This isn’t to say that it makes everything perfect, but taking time to breathe slows things down and allows us to feel more grounded. This is turn allows our healthy side to kick in and we can then make decisions based on what we actually want for ourselves instead of what our eating disorder wants.
So as you start this week, take a deep breath in through your nose and slowly (but fully) out through your mouth. Do this for 5-10 minutes if need be and see how you are feeling. Take this positive step for yourself, it doesn’t fix everything but it does put you in the driving seat so that you get to have control over your own well being.