Anorexia nervosa is a serious, life-threatening eating disorder in which an individual may obsess about their weight and what they eat. A person with anorexia may try to maintain below-normal body weight through starvation and excessive exercise, often to a life-threatening point. Anorexia nervosa is rooted in distorted body image and unwarranted fear of gaining weight. Considering that anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder, finding treatment and healthy ways to manage symptoms is crucial. In light of this, our center for eating disorders is sharing eight coping mechanisms for anorexia.
How to Cope With Anorexia Nervosa
Coping with anorexia nervosa takes patience, strength, courage, and endurance, all of which require time to build up. With the right attitude and support system, you or a loved one can recover from anorexia and develop a healthy lifestyle. Whether you’ve recently received eating disorder support or have been in recovery for years, below are 8 coping mechanisms for anorexia nervosa that can help you build a strong foundation and stick to your goals.
#1: Journal What You Feel
Keeping a recovery journal is one of the most common coping skills for eating disorders. Keeping a daily record of your thoughts and feelings can help you notice any harmful patterns in your thoughts and actions that might contribute to your eating disorder. This is a great way to record how you felt throughout the day, especially as it relates to food and body image.
Pick a day of the week or month to read through your entries to identify how your thoughts, mood, and behaviors related to eating and food have changed. This way, you can pick out certain areas you want to improve and possibly speak to your doctor or a therapist about them.
#2: Set Attainable Goals
Setting unrealistic goals does more harm than good. While we’re all for optimism, you should know your limits. Setting unattainable goals for yourself may lead to more disappointment and backtracking than anything. Instead, break down your goals into smaller chunks.
For example, if you’re only eating one meal a day, try adding a small snack. Trying to go for a full three-meal-day can seem more stressful right off the bat. You can also try reducing the number of times you weigh yourself every day rather than trying to stop weighing yourself altogether. So, if you’re used to weighing yourself ten times a day, reduce it to eight, and reduce it in increments until you stop doing it.
#3: Identify Your Triggers
Journaling is also a great technique because it helps you identify certain situations, places, things, and people that may trigger symptoms or behaviors related to anorexia. In this case, a trigger is anything that leads you to engage in anorexia nervosa behaviors, such as starvation and excessive exercise. It’s important to identify the things that make you want to engage in these behaviors, why they make you feel this way, and how you can avoid them without sacrificing your well-being and responsibilities.
If you can identify your triggers, then you can gain control over the things that are preventing you from leading a successful life in recovery. Some triggers to look out for include:
- Stressful family interactions
- Stressful situations at work
- Images or events that trigger issues with your body image
- Social media
- Stressful situations with friends
#4: Use Positive Affirmations
Not only do we encourage the use of positive affirmations for people in addiction recovery, but we also believe they make great anorexia coping skills. Positive affirmations are phrases or mantras you can repeat to yourself when you need encouragement or stress relief. Effective and easy-to-remember positive affirmations may include short phrases like:
- “This is a challenge, but it’s worth it”
- “You are worthy”
- “You are strong”
- “You have the power to change your path”
Come up with positive affirmations that encourage you during difficult moments and remind yourself that you got this!
#5: Keep Your Family and Friends in the Loop
There is no shame in asking for help or needing a shoulder to cry on. Having a support system at home is crucial and advised for eating disorder recovery. While you may feel embarrassed or scared to be open about your eating disorder with a family member or close friend, this is an important step.
Not only can this individual offer you an additional and much-needed level of support, but it also keeps them in the loop and on the lookout for any signs that you might be struggling. This keeps you accountable for your behavior and grants you the additional support you need. With this in mind, we suggest you open up about your eating disorder with a trustworthy close friend or family member.
#6: Avoid Harmful Websites
Sadly, there are numerous websites out there dedicated to encouraging eating disorders like anorexia nervosa. Considering how much of what we do at work, school, and in daily life is centered on the internet, it’s likely that you might accidentally come across a website like this. Be mindful of these sites and avoid them at all costs.
Many sites advocate anorexia and bulimia lifestyles to the point where they offer tips on how to perform harmful behaviors for weight loss and more. Avoid them and free yourself from other negative influences.
#7: Be Mindful of Who You Follow on Social Media
Speaking of harmful websites, social media applications like Instagram and Facebook are often platforms for eating disorder lifestyles. You know yourself better than anyone else, and you also know your triggers. If comparing yourself to social media influencers and celebrities online was a behavior that encouraged certain harmful behaviors, then you should either unfollow said people or take a break from social media altogether.
#8: Ask for Professional Help
There’s strength and courage to be found in asking for help, and if you’ve been hesitant in the past, this is your sign to ask for help. Banyan Treatment Center offers eating disorder treatment in Philadelphia for disorders like anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and more. With the help of trained counselors, therapists, and nutritionists, we’re able to help patients overcome their symptoms and develop healthy coping skills for their lives outside of rehab.
Not only is the goal of programs like anorexia nervosa treatment to help patients recover from the impact of their disorders, but our eating disorder programs are also designed to instill in their motivation, courage, and independence. If you or someone you care about has an eating disorder, don’t wait any longer to get help.
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