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Vulnerability In A Vulnerable Time

Wrapping up October with a focus on vulnerability feels fitting giving everything we as the world and as individuals are going through right now. It feels like this October is hitting harder than some from the past with trying to balance not just our usual struggles adjusting to colder and darker days, but also the increased isolation and anxiety caused by Covid-19. We really are in a vulnerable time where regulating our emotions requires considerable extra effort and compassion, especially as we try to navigate our recovery journey perhaps without access to our usual self-care strategies. In order to help you navigate all that you are going through, I want to give you a few tips that will hopefully make this transition into fall a little easier on you.

  1. Vulnerability, while uncomfortable, is actually healthy: For many who struggle with eating disorders, one of their most common defense mechanisms is to numb. Numb their feelings, numb their experiences, numb their reactions. While this feels like an effective strategy in the moment, what research shows is that we don’t get to numb just the painful things in life. When we use numbing as a defense we numb everything, the good and the painful. The vulnerable feelings that arise as we tackle parts of our recovery are there to tell us we are on the right track. Depending on what stage you are at in your journey, perhaps the first step to take when you notice these feelings is simply to notice that you feel vulnerable and to breathe into it. You don’t have to dive head first into exploring it if vulnerability is new to you. Instead, just acknowledge that it is there, that it’s not a bad thing, and take a deep breath. For those of you further along, I recommend trying to understand when those feelings very first kicked in (this requires you to actually pay close attention to yourself) and write down in a journal the moments that these feelings come up. You will start to notice some themes. As you tolerate that experience, you can then dive deeper into exploring and understanding those feelings. The deeper you dig, the more you heal. While it is hard, the only way to get over an eating disorder is to go through it.
  2. Pay attention to how the weather changing is affecting you: While only about 4-5% of people clinically suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, the strong majority of people are affected by the change in seasons. For some it makes them want to stay in and be cozy and it grants them more space to attend to themselves. For others, the dark days make them feel sad and disconnected. In addition, the change in weather usually changes how we want to eat. Transitioning away from cold, crisp foods towards more warming, comforting foods. It is healthy and important to listen to your body in these situations but we know that can be challenging when working on recovery. Now is the time to sit back and try to see the forest through the trees. Overall, how do the Fall and Winter months affect you? What do you think you will need to get through these seasons with grace and compassion for yourself? Being harder on yourself doesn’t make this journey any easier, so instead, get clear on what you know you need and find ways to make meeting those needs a priority. 
  3. When vulnerability increases, the need for self-care also increases: As Brene Brown says, when you allow yourself to be vulnerable you are “choosing courage over comfort.” While doing so will benefit you greatly and lead you closer to living your best life, we also know that being courageous requires a lot of emotional energy. Anytime we are making demands on our emotional, mental or physical selves, we need to look at how we are going to replenish. Self-care in these months is going to be critical if we want to navigate the change in seasons and Covid, while keeping recovery front of mind. I recommend you look at how you can implement self-care into your daily routine in both big and small ways. Remember, self-care is about those gentle cups of tea, but it’s also about making our meal plan and sticking with it. Some parts of self-care are about nurturing ourselves, while others are about doing the things we know we need to do to be well. Research also indicates that the greatest predictor of happiness in life is our connections. So I really hope that you make connecting with others, whether that be friends, family, support teams or us here at Kaela Scott Counselling, a self-care priority. Nobody has to go through this season alone, we are always here to chat and check in as you courageously keep moving towards your recovery goals. 
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