Last week I posted about how so many of my clients are finding the summer a challenging time of the year and that instead of feeling happy and relaxed they end up feeling more anxious and burnt out. I am going to copy it to this post but add in some pieces of how it pertains to eating disorders.
I always find this time of year funny. The days are longer, the sun is shining and we typically feel pretty good. So why is it that at the time of year when we are supposed to be reveling in days spent at the beach and evenings relaxing on a patio that my clients have been coming in feeling more anxious, less connected and in many ways dreading what most of us consider the best time of year?
The truth is, the time of year when what we need to be doing is slowing our pace, breaking out of our usual routine and giving ourselves time to relax and take care of ourselves, many of us end up over scheduling ourselves in hopes of fitting everything in. Time off ends up being busier then our typical work week and weekends are booked solid until the middle of September. To top it off, if you struggle with an eating disorder the summer ends up being a double edged sword. Not only are you busier but it is the time of year when there is more focus on people’s bodies and most events take place either at the beach or around a BBQ. This often leaves people feeling as though they are exposed to their triggers regardless of which way they turn.
In my office I hear “but it’s all fun stuff Kaela, I feel like I shouldn’t be dreading it so much. I feel guilty for not wanting to do things that everyone else seems excited about.” The truth is, even if it is fun stuff, being booked back to back and not using this time to actually slow down can have a really negative affect on your overall sense of well being. Fun events feels like obligations and things that would typically excite you can leave you feeling drained and exhausted. Additionally, your eating disorder can either be put into overdrive or you have to work twice as hard to keep it at bay, meaning you will be more taxed and feel depleted much faster.
One of my biggest topics over these past few weeks in my counselling sessions has been to get my clients to practice saying NO. To begin with it usually creates a lot of anxiety. Not only because it is a challenge but also because a part of them actually wants to partake in all the summer festivities and doesn’t want to miss out. Additionally, for those with eating disorders, standing up for their own healthy needs is typically particularly challenging. Once it happens though these same people report feeling more in control of their lives and also less overwhelmed. Their recovery remains a focus and they feel more in control. Balance becomes restored even just by them deciding to take one full day or evening off per week where they unplug from their phones and they just do them. For some this is having an easy night in where they sit and read a book on their back deck. For others is curling up under the covers and watching their favorite show and going to bed early.
These months are difficult, especially when we struggle with an eating disorder so instead of putting yourself at greater risk, be your own advocate and start listening to what would truly be best for you. Whatever it is, I encourage you to take yourself seriously this summer and start saying No to others so you can start saying Yes to yourself and your own needs.