For many people, self-help is a key part of the road to long-term recovery. Self-help can take many forms including learning to identify triggers for your eating disorder and to take actions to avoid or counteract them, reading and learning about your disorder, learning and applying coping skills, learning about ways to improve your self-esteem, attending support groups and developing a support system to rely on when necessary.
Self-help is an important way to keep your recovery on track. Below we have outline some key factors that can be used to support self-help during recovery.
Many people with eating disorders feel isolated, cut off from former sources of support. Some have never had much support. If this is you, then there is great value in gradually forming even one new support – recovery isn’t dependent on having a lot of supports, rather on having good quality support.
You may like to begin by reaching out to just one family member, friend or health professional – someone you feel you can open up to. Over time, you may find it possible to build up your own network of support, ready for when you need it.
Connecting with others with lived experience of eating disorders can also help. EDV offers a range of online support groups to help facilitate connection and shared learning with others.
In order to maximise your recovery, it is important to learn as much as you can about your disorder, your symptoms, best treatment practices and available resources. It’s also important to learn about yourself, including the triggers for your eating disorder, so that you can gain better control over your mental health. There are lots of ways you can educate yourself – by speaking with health professionals, attending workshops and support groups, using online learning resources, listening to podcasts, as well as reading books, articles and newsletters.
The internet can be a great source of education when it comes to eating disorders, but it often takes self-care and boundary setting to not get carried away with information overload. You may also find information that reinforces eating disorder behaviour. Please exercise caution when online and using social media, and practice digital self-care by unfollowing and switching off.
Meaningful activity is a vital part of life; for many it is what gives them a sense of purpose and value. What a person does with their life will influence their confidence, self-esteem, self-worth and feelings of connectedness with the world around them. People recover more quickly and more fully when they are able to resume school, work, higher education, family duties and/or other meaningful activity.
Having a sense of hope is the foundation for ongoing recovery from an eating disorder. Even the smallest belief that you can get better, as others have, can fuel the recovery process.
This is the belief that you have power and control over your own life, including control over your mental health. Being ready and willing to take on responsibility for your own journey towards health and well-being is a fundamental part of recovery.
Many people who are going through an eating disorder have never (knowingly) met someone who has recovered from an eating disorder. Reading and listening to other people’s stories of recovery can give you the hope and reassurance that recovery is possible.