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Daily Self-Care To Empower Your Eating Disorder Recovery

*Disclaimer- I am not a medical professional. But I am someone who has successfully recovered from my own eating disorder which lasted a total of 20 years. I share my own experience in hopes of offering a helping hand to others on the road to recovery. If you are currently suffering from an eating disorder, please seek professional help. My suggestions are not intended as medical advice.

Anyone who has gone through treatment for their eating disorder knows that, while it was difficult, it was only the beginning of recovery! Going through treatment doesn’t mean we’re cured, but it is a starting point for the recovery process.

Recovery is not an event, but rather a lifelong process of learning to live with a new mindset and a new lifestyle. Our old ways of dealing with the stresses and problems of life by using eating disorder behaviors no longer work for us. We must learn more effective ways of coping with our frustrations and troubling thoughts.

When we were living in our ED, self-care wasn’t really an option. We were compelled to do whatever the illness told us to do, and those behaviors were not in our best interest, physically or emotionally.

Now that we have gone through treatment, the most important thing is relapse prevention. The best way to prevent a relapse is to make daily self-care a priority. If you want to hold on to your recovery, taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually every day is not a luxury, but a necessity!

The importance of a daily routine

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A daily routine keeps us on track

When I was living in my ED, my illness dictated my daily routine. Even if I wanted to do something differently, my ED kept me under its control, and I catered to it.

But living in recovery for over 18 years now, I have learned that having a healthy daily routine is what keeps me on track. Knowing what I need to do every day has become a no-brainer because over time, it has become part of my daily routine.

Though different days may bring different challenges and tasks, there are parts of my day that are not negotiable. I take comfort in my self-care routines because they give me a sense of safety and stability. Having a routine ensures that I do what I need to do for my recovery without having to put too much thought into it.

Now that we have gone through treatment, the most important thing is relapse prevention. The best way to prevent a relapse is to make daily self-care a priority!

A daily self-care recovery checklist

Below is a list of the things I do every day to maintain my emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. When I give all the parts of myself what I need to feel safe and stable, no matter what happens, I don’t have the desire to return to my eating disorder behaviors.

Those old, unhealthy coping strategies are now obsolete, because they’re no longer needed. I have found a better, more effective way to live. And you can, too!

The items on my checklist are what I have found that work to bring calmness and balance to my days. There might be some things you would add to your own recovery checklist. Feel free to modify the list to suit your personal needs and preferences.

A daily checklist is a great recovery tool, but remember to keep it simple. Don’t add so many things to your list that it becomes unmanageable. Having a checklist is supposed to make your recovery easier, not more difficult!

Later in the post, I will suggest some journaling questions that will help to clarify what self-care means for you.

Daily Checklist

Self Care Isn't Selfish Signage on peach colored background
We each have unique needs, and it is our own responsibility to get those daily needs met!

Physical

  • 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night
  • drink plenty of water
  • eat regular meals
  • exercise
  • take a nap/rest when tired
  • “what do I need for physical comfort right now”? (a sweater, a fan, a drink of water, use the restroom, etc)

Emotional

  • take 5 minutes to breathe & sit quietly
  • go outside for at least 15 minutes
  • say “yes” to something
  • say “no” to something
  • listen to music
  • name one thing I appreciate about my body
  • do something just for fun
  • try something new

Spiritual

  • pray
  • meditate
  • write down 3 gratitudes

As needed

Some things I don’t do daily, but whenever a situation calls for it:

  • talk to a trustworthy support person, and/or journal to clarify my thoughts
  • set a boundary (with myself, or someone else)

If you want to hold on to your recovery, taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually every day is not a luxury, but a necessity!

Journaling prompts

A Woman's Hand Writing In a Journal
Writing out our thoughts can help us understand ourselves better

Perhaps my daily self-care recovery checklist resonates with you, but maybe you want to fine-tune it for yourself. Here are some journaling questions, to help clarify your own daily self-care needs.

  1. What does self-care mean for me in the categories of physical/emotional/spiritual well-being?
  2. Am I procrastinating on doing something? If so, why? How can I make it easier to take the first step in completing that task? Is it something I truly want and/or need to do, or do I feel pressured to please someone else?
  3. Do I have a comfortable routine set up for the various parts of my day (morning, afternoon, evening, and bedtime? Would it help me to feel less anxiety if I had an established routine to follow?
  4. Is something missing from my life that I yearn for? What steps can I take to bring that person/experience into my life?

Continuing in recovery

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Recovery is the freedom to get my needs met in healthy ways!

Recovering from an eating disorder is a long process, and going through a treatment program, whether in-patient or outpatient, is only the beginning. Then comes the difficult work of putting what we have learned about healthy behaviors into action in our lives.

I can tell you from experience that relapse isn’t an event that happens randomly, out of the blue. Eating disorder thoughts can creep into our minds quite insidiously. The definition of insidious is: proceeds in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects. That means that if we’re not watchful, over time harmful thoughts can take hold, and those thoughts will at some point become behaviors.

To remedy this before it even starts, we must take care of ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In order to do that, it is important to be sure we have routines in our daily lives that support our new life in recovery. And having a daily self-care checklist ensures that we are taking action every single day to avoid a relapse!

Go ahead and print out the Daily Self-Care Recovery Checklist, and feel free to add/subtract items to make it work for you. I pray that it helps you to prioritize getting your daily needs met, and avoid heading toward a relapse.

Please share your comments or questions below! I would love to hear if you have used a daily checklist in your recovery, and what has helped you the most.

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