Self Love, Short and Sweet

 

Here is my professional and personal take on self-love, I’ll make this short and sweet!

Self love is a new concept to many, in that it is not something that we were taught about in school, it is not something that was drilled into our minds much like math, science, and geography, instead it is a concept that is incredibly foreign to us. Why is this? Why is such an important and crucial concept so new to us within our adult years? I don’t quite have the answer to this, because the lack of self-love has fostered a world of negativity, hatred, illness, and self-loathing.

In a world filled with selfies, hash tags and filters, it can be easy to view self love as selfishness, narcissism, and fabrication…. and yes, this does exist, but this is not self love. Self-love is appreciating the person that you are, accepting yourself for your flaws, loving yourself for the good and the bad, loving the black and white while also embracing the grey! Self love is loving yourself, for yourself, not for someone else’s gratification, not doing it for likes on Instagram and Facebook, not doing it for followers, or social acceptance, instead doing it for YOU!

Because we haven’t been taught how to practice self-love, it may come as an overwhelming and intimidating task, therefore, practice patience, and give yourself time; you will eventually learn to love yourself! Therefore, the next time you take a selfie, do it for self love not selfishness, do it for self-appreciation, not to prove something to others! Below are a few ways to begin your practice of self love, and let me tell you….it is worth it, I promise!

Write yourself a daily love note

Journal words of love to your self-hatred

Smile when you wake up in the morning

Give yourself a hug

Wear something that makes you FEEL good

Do something that makes you FEEL good

Read a book

Cook a meal

Spend time with a loved one

Go for a walk

Wake up to watch the sunrise

Take a selfie for self-love

Light a candle and listen to your favorite song

Watch your favorite movie

Take a picture for self-love NOT selfishness or self-loathing

Take away negative self talk, such as, should, shouldn’t, good, bad, fat and ugly

Self-love is something that we ALL need, it is a non negotiable. Therefore, whether you are working your way through eating disorder recovery, trying to find body positivity, struggling with self-loathing and self-hating language and behavior, or just need a bit more self-love in your life, take a moment today, tomorrow, and the day after that to begin your practice of self-love! Be the model of your own life!

Five Ways to Celebrate Recovery!

In honor of Eating Disorder Awareness week below is a handful of ways to recognize and celebrate your own recovery, as well as, spread awareness!

Your recovery hero is first and foremost yourself, which is a beautiful achievement, but there are also other heroes within our life that helped us through our eating disorders, were the catalyst to recovery, or maybe just influenced self-awareness. Whether your recovery hero knows about their impact on you and your recovery or not, take the time to acknowledge them! Celebrate your hero! This can be intimidating at first so here are some ideas on ways to acknowledge that special someone in your recovery journey!

-Make a picture collage and post it on social media, send it to them, or frame it as a gift!

-Make a playlist that embodies the spirit behind your recovery journey

-Write a letter to your recovery hero and send it in the mail or read it to them out loud!

-Treat your recovery hero to an afternoon with you, show them love, respect and appreciation through vulnerability and friendship!

-Give your hero a hug, and just say thank you!

Social media, in particular Facebook and Instagram can be incredibly triggering for individuals within recovery, in that it is a digital world created upon filters, editing, #hashtags, and fabricated moments of someone’s life. Therefore, instead of allowing social media to take you down, create an account that can only lift you up and inspire you! Creating a recovery account is done with the intent to surround yourself with real, normal images, as opposed to the fabricated filtered images we see on a regular basis. Therefore, following inspirational, real, body positive accounts, and fellow ED veterans can be incredibly rewarding and normalize your social media world again! RecoveryLoveandCare is on Instagram, therefore start out with following us, and slowly navigate your way through the #bodypostive #bopo world!

Set aside at least twenty minutes every day this week to celebrate you! Self-care is the key to a successful recovery, therefore self care and self-love must be practiced on a daily basis! Self care doesn’t have to be time-consuming, it can be as simple as running yourself a hot bath, going for a walk in the morning, painting your nails in silence, or dancing in front of the mirror while you get ready for work in the morning! Therefore, this week try to condition yourself to practicing self-care, set aside twenty minutes a day for seven days, and just celebrate yourself!

This is a moment for true reflection and honesty. Are you truly at a point of recovery, and if so are you still in need of professional assistance? This is a question that is not meant to shame or pressure anyone, instead it is meant to challenge our self-awareness, because self-awareness is a major component within eating disorder recovery. No, recovery is not linear, but are you truly at the point in your recovery that you do not need professional assistance? In other words, intensive treatment may not be needed anymore, but the weekly or monthly check in with your helping professional, nutritionist or primary care doctor is always helpful, and has been proven to help individuals through their eating disorder! So if you or a loved one is in need of a little extra help within their recovery, bring some awareness to the topic and have an honest conversation about the overall recovery process.

Lets have a real conversation about Eating Disorders, no shame, no stigma, and no embarrassment, just truth. Sit down with a loved one, or maybe even a stranger and discuss what everyone else is afraid to talk about! Starting the conversation will take us one step closer to healing!

Three Steps Towards Living a Body Positive Life

 

Number One:

This is a concept that I touch on a lot within this blog, because self-awareness is an underlying theme within all recovery processes. Within the mental health world, self-awareness is not only crucial for the client, but also for the counselor. Therefore, bringing a sense of immediacy and honesty towards your current, and past emotions, thoughts, and behaviors is a not only a beneficial, but crucial step towards living a healthy happy life within recovery. When you are in a safe space, take a brief moment to reflect on your present state. What are you feeling right now? Why are you feeling this way? Is this a constant feeling, or a new feeling? How are these feelings, emotions and behaviors affecting your overall process towards reaching body positivity? Take all of the time that you have and need for this step, this could be a simple process in the morning, or a continuous process throughout your day, it can be an inward conversation with yourself, or a written note in a journal, there is no right or wrong way of practicing this step, as long as you are honest and true to the process of self awareness.

Number Two:

As human beings, we often see in black and white, in that the world is good and bad, dark and light, heavenly and hellish, right and wrong, but in reality nothing is black and white, everything is grey. Therefore simply understanding that life is all a personal process within that grey area can bring you one step closer towards living a body positive life. For instance, it is not bad that you have that extra squish on your tummy, it is not bad that you have those stretch-mark’s on your inner thigh, it is not bad that you ate that bagel or had that piece of cake. Appearance is neither good or bad, it is all a part of who we are, it is all a part of the process we call recovery. My pouch below my bellybutton is no more or less beautiful than another woman’s six-pack; we are both within our own grey area, our own process. Therefore embrace the grey area, because the grey area is where all of the growth occurs! Remind yourself everyday that we are all in the grey.

Number 3:

Happiness is all relative right? Everyone has their own experiences with joy and the feeling of happy, although within recovery, happiness is usually focused around our health, our physical bodies, and food, because the first stage of recovery is usually stabilizing those aspects of our selves. Therefore, it is crucial to find at least one thing that you can find happiness through that does not involve food, or the physical body, such as, exercise. Finding a feeling of happy outside of food and the physical body gives your mind a break from the intensity of recovery, and also trains your mind to find ways to feel happy without food and exercise! Yes, these two things are crucial to live, but true happiness is completely dependent of those two things, and once you find genuine happiness without those things, you can eventually find safety with them in your life. What makes you feel happy that doesn’t involve food or exercise? What can you do once a day that can bring that feeling of happiness into your life? For instance, reading a book before bed, starting your day off with an affirmation, listening to a podcast or your favorite radio station on the way to work, cuddling with a loved one, watching your favorite show, taking a bath, etc., will introduce happiness without the dependency of food or the body, as these two things run parallel to one another!

When these three steps are implemented into your daily routine you will be that much closer towards living a body positive life! Remember this is a process, as is life. Recovery is all about the process, learning from the ups and the downs, understanding that it is not linear or easy, and it is hard work…. therefore, taking small steps like these will bring you closer towards a body positive self.

 

The Grieving Process within Eating Disorder Recovery

Grief is a feeling of despair, uncontrollable and inevitable loss, disappointment, pain, numbness and sadness, an experience that can last a moment or a lifetime, something that is not tangible and can cause isolation and a feeling of alone. Grief is a normal reaction to any kind of loss, as well as, all of the emotions that coincide with the grief, although some emotions may feel abnormal due to misunderstood or unidentified grief, they are not (James & Friedman, 2009). Grief has various definitions, as it is an experience that all individuals face, and in different ways, depending on their loss, and this can cause for confusion and conflicting feelings. These conflicting feelings are usually caused by change in some aspect of an individual’s life, such as, death, and in this case, loss of innocence and identity.

Grief is something that is experienced on so many levels, as the feeling the feeling of change and loss do not necessarily have to correspond with what we conceive to be a negative belief. Below is a list of the various forms of grief that an individual may experience within their lifetime (James & Friedman, 2009).

Death of a loved one

Death of a pet

Divorce

Marriage

Moving

Starting School

Death of a former spouse

Graduation

End of an addiction

Major health changes

Start of a new job

Retirement

Financial Changes – positive or negative

Holidays

Legal Problems

Empty Nest

The list goes on and on, in that most major loss evens in life do not have to be associated with death, there is loss of trust, loss of safety, loss of control, and several conflicting ideas and feelings come within a grieving process.

In terms of Eating Disorder Recovery, much of the process seems rocky, tumultuous, incredibly challenging and at times, unbearable. So much of this struggle has to do with the grieving process; our minds and bodies are reacting in response to grief! Below is a list on the various factors that trigger a sense of loss and grieving within Eating Disorder Recovery.

Loss of what you perceived your body to be

Loss of perceived control over your body

Loss of perceived control over your food

Loss of perceived control over your physical activity

Loss of a toxic relationship with food

Loss of the perception of what is healthy

Loss of the perception of what is perfection

Loss of the body that has been desired

Loss of the body that was controlled by ED

Loss of the safety within ED

Loss of a toxic relationship

Loss of identity

This list just touches the surface of the overall grief process involved in ED recovery. Our perception of grief as a society is incredibly black and white, and in reality grief is completely grey. Eating Disorder Recovery has so much to do with loss and grief, and you can’t truly move through the process of recovery without bringing awareness towards your grief reactions and grief process.

Therefore self-awareness is crucial to this overall process in order to safely and successfully move through recovery. Once self-awareness is implemented, compassion is incredibly important, in that compassion towards the mind and body will help you move through the grieving process. This is where self care comes into play, surprise surprise! To live a life without ED is living a life full of self-love, body positive thoughts and behaviors, and forming healthy bonds with the mind, body and other relationships through self-care, self care, self care!

So as we move into this weekend, I ask you to bring some self awareness to your grieving process within your own life and ED Recovery, be easy on yourself, and allow for compassion and self care!

 

References

James, J., & Friedman, R. (2009). Grief a Neglected and Misunderstood Process. The grief recovery handbook (20th Anniversary Expanded Edition). New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.