Coping Strategies require plenty of structure,
planning and attitude adjustments toward the positive. The only way this can occur is if the recovery is
made a priority. Recovery from an eating disorder does not occur when the process is left to chance.
Remember behavioral changes have to come prior to emotional changes. If someone changes their behaviors
and actions, changes in emotions and thoughts soon follow.
One of the most beneficial things an individual can do is take the time to compile a list of potential coping tools.
We offer a starter list of 201 Coping Strategies from which to create your own list. But anyone
can create their own list perhaps even with some brain-storming from concerned others. Nothing is going
to appear to be as ‘effective or good as’ the eating disorder but with time those coping skills can allow someone
to regain control over their own lives. With constructive coping tools a reclaiming of the self is possible.
Coping skills have to address
several areas of the recovery process. They must assist with the actual behavior but more importantly they
need to help with the emotional aspects of the recovery process. No one thing works for all people.
Each individual has to work through the process discovering what does and does not work for them.
Planning and plenty of structure are two of the few coping skills that are universal. But each individual brings their own patterns to planning and structure.
Again initially this might work with great ease because of several factors. One factor being that
getting better is a strong focus initially. But as the process moves on the challenges appear more difficult.
That is more about trying to recover and live life than it is about the illness or the person. To
do both is very challenging for a newly recovering person. It often is very hard to take care of yourself
if you are not used to paying positive attention to yourself. Attaining a balance is the primary goal.
But that will take some juggling. Patience is mandatory for this to work. It
is too easy to fall back to old patterns of not taking care of oneself and focusing on everything else. This
has to change.
Change doesn’t happen accidentally it happens through planning,
structure and being flexible enough to adjust and modify the plans as needed to ensure success. It also
helps to gather support and help from caring others. The beginning and middle stages of recovery have no
place or room for isolation or withdrawal. It is not meant for this to be taken to extremes by the way.
On occasion of course it is good to have some alone down town. But too much of a good thing is considered
How much planning is necessary – the amount of
planning that result in successes is the answer. Although that is cyclical thinking again the amount of
planning needed varies from person to person. What works for one may not help the next person.
One exception is following the meal plan and planning according to the day’s events. This everyone in recovery
must do at one time or another. Again the meal plan is not a forever thing; it is the tool to help in reestablishing
normal eating without the avoidance of certain foods often termed “bad foods” by those with eating illnesses.
The meal plan can provide a lot of security and confidence when relearning how to nourish the body appropriately.
And it can be returned to during trying times as a guide back to balance.
As discussed earlier the negative often critical self talk those with
eating disorders participate in are hard and rarely produce anything positive. Planning
might indeed be essential to assist in discontinuing this harmful behavior. To stop this requires some
choices, options and goals to work toward. Here might be one example of how that might work:
If meal time is difficult, a plan to eat meals with someone else might take the focus off the meal and increase social
activity. This might even produce some enjoyment.
a positive experience is the goal, then all one needs to do is adjust the plan until you get the result you are looking for.
The attitude adjustment could be applied to everything. Another example: If the
goal is to get through the day feeling good about the choices made, one could set goals and plan strategies for rough times
as well as normal and good times. If one already has a meal plan, and the specific meals are not planned
one could plan them. If it helps to be with others call a friend for lunch. If after
meals one feels uncomfortable, getting busy with something enjoyable can help be a distraction to the discomfort.
Most would feel good by doing this and that is goal, feeling good about choices for the day. By
changing behavior, confidence and thoughts may change as well and some confidence might begin to develop giving the individual
some hope and motivation to continue this new path. “If I am able to do this today, I could do it
tomorrow!” might be a brand new way of thinking. This is how small and even large successes can generate
more positive behavior and additional successes.