Social distancing has been a buzzword lately and is a major way that people can contribute to slow the spread of COVID-19 or, in other words, flatten the curve. Social distancing can often be confused with self-isolation and simply misunderstood in general (i.e. the people still partying it up at the beach) but it boils down to limiting interaction with the community outside of your home to must-do activities only, such as grocery shopping or medical appointments. This can be a daunting and challenging time for those in recovery, especially those without an accessible support system. Here are five tips to make social distancing easier:
1. Talk to your support system or treatment team
Communicating with your support system and/or treatment team about your current struggles, anxieties, and emotions is incredibly important during times like this. While hopefully they are already checking in with you, it’s still necessary for you to talk to them about your specific needs. Would you like them to check in with you more? Do you need more support during meals/snacks? Are you struggling with body image? Talking to your support system, dietician, therapist, and anyone else in your recovery circle is the most important part of finding a way to make social distancing easier for you and your recovery.
2. Don’t fall into the productivity trap
Social media is filled with tips and tricks on how to be “productive” while stuck at home. From workouts to cleaning videos, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the “shoulds.” Sure, you have more time on your hands if school/work is cancelled, but that doesn’t mean you should be churning out best-selling novels every day. I often have to pull myself out of the “I should…” mindset and keep myself grounded by checking in with my intentions. Am I cleaning because I want to or because I feel lazy today? Am I going for a walk because I’m having food guilt or because I want some fresh air? Is my urge to start a new project coming from a place of inspiration or anxiety and perfectionist thinking? Asking yourself why you’re doing something and keeping your mental health and happiness above the “shoulds” and “musts” will help keep you from falling into the productivity trap. I also have an article all about social media and eating disorders with different tips and tricks, too.
3. Make time for self-care
Taking the time to practice self-care is extremely important not only in recovery, but throughout life! You are not alone in any anxiety, confusion, and sadness that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing. I recently had to convert to all online classes and leave my dorm without the chance to pack it up or say a proper goodbye to my roomie. Make sure you are giving yourself some extra love during this challenging time. Take a bath, read a book, eat your favorite food, rewatch your favorite show, paint your nails, meditate- find something that helps you feel comforted and grounded.
4. Know when it’s time to follow a schedule (and when NOT to!)
For some, being at home 24/7 with no structure may feel like a huge distraction that takes away from school or working from home. For others, it can be tempting to overload the day with things to do and accomplish. If you find yourself struggling with meals, snacks, and/or getting your required work done, consider establishing a schedule to follow. Going to sleep and waking up around the same time can help establish a day-to-day rhythm and help you plan chunks of time to practice self-care, get your daily work done, do chores/leisure activities, and eat/meet your meal plan. However for people like myself following a schedule can lead to rigidity, which means learning to not follow a schedule! Obviously work/school will likely have set hours or things to accomplish, but outside of that it’s important to remain flexible. If schedules aren’t for you, try finding a variety of activities to do to fill your time (not all of them should be “productive”) and give yourself some grace if you struggle with the newfound downtime.
5. Continue to nourish yourself and follow your meal plan
Depending on where you are in recovery and comfort level with food, you may or not be on a meal plan. For those with a meal plan, it’s important to always follow it, even when it’s hard or the situation throws you off your game. If it’s safe and accessible for you to do so, try incorporating some of your favorite foods to make this time easier. This doesn’t mean that you should stop challenging ED and fear foods, though. Continue fighting, being honest with yourself, and being open with your treatment team. For those without a meal plan, no matter if you’re recovered/recovering/or struggle with something else food/body related, it’s important to continue nourishing yourself. I know, it can be hard- and it can sometimes suck. Remember that ED is not your friend and definitely does not serve you and your future! If being alone makes it harder to have accountability, try checking in with your team after meals/snacks or FaceTiming a friend while you eat.
This is an extremely difficult time for people all over the globe and from all walks of life, but it’s important to remember to take care of yourself and your recovery! Making the time for self-care, communicating with your team, and continuing to nourish your body are all ways to help decrease the challenges involved with social distancing.
All content on RecovRoad is based on personal experiences, research, and ideas. Please do not repost/share without credit and be aware that nothing on this blog takes the place of professional help. This is also a formal trigger warning: content about and relating to eating disorders may be triggering to survivors. Please see the “RESOURCES” tab, call the National Eating Disorders Association hotline at 800-931-2237, and remember to take care of yourself.