Of course, I am mocking myself in the title (chuckle).
So we have all heard by now the connection between Eating Disorders and Anxiety Disorders. The two should get a room already!
Some would say that anxiety causes, drives, or at least heightens eating disorder behaviors. Therefore, the intelligent approach would be to tackle anxiety first, or at least simultaneously! But how do we learn to Cope with Anxiety? Why… through Coping Skills of Course!
Here is a Perfectionist’s Approach to Negative vs Positive Coping Skills in Eating Disorder Recovery.
During my own Eating Disorder Recovery, it was helpful to connect my ED with the idea of a coping skill. I simply considered my eating disorder a “Negative Coping Skill.”
This approach was extremely helpful in my own path to recovery. Please remember that each persons recovery is unique to their own situation. This just worked for me.
Here is why: My own personal ED manifested from a perfectionist-driven mindset. Perfectionists tend to set unrealistic expectations and goals for themselves in one, or all of life’s circumstances. When the bar is set impossibly high, the only outcome is failure. Therefore, perfectionists tend to Catastrophize ALL THINGS, big and small… meaning we approach every situation as if its a life or death situation, or “The Biggest Deal Ever!” – Inevitably perfectionists cause MORE STRESS and MORE TRIGGERS to Numb our Emotions with ED.
- For Example: In my mind, accepting my Eating Disorder as an ISSUE to be Tackled sounded more like “OMG I am Cursed and I am going to Die! I need to fix this right now or else I am going to die!” – Followed by heightened anxiety, an internal or external freak-out session, and inevitably, ED Behaviors.
So back to how this relates to Coping Skills… In order to avoid Catastrophizing, I practiced simply replacing a “negative coping skill” with a “positive coping skill!” In my own mind, all that meant was – Pinpoint the negative coping mechanism and find a more positive replacement for it. NO BIGGY!
But it IS a Big Deal. Its a life-changing (and life extending) deal.
Replacing a long-term habit with a newly-formed habit can happen ONLY with lots of discipline and PRACTICE. NO, its NOT easy… but its NOT Impossible either! Nothing worth having in life has ever been achieved Easily! But if I can do it, you can too. If you are a Perfectionist like me… just direct your perfectionist tenancies towards this coping skill replacement!
Here are some things to think about as you get started:
- Choose the Coping Skills that Work for YOU. If the new coping skill is not providing you just as much, if not more satisfaction as the negative… its not going to work.
- Practice… TEDIOUS, REPETITIVE PRACTICE of the Positive Replacement
- Don’t accept FAILURE as DEFEAT. If you slip… catch yourself and keep moving.
There’s are endless examples of positive coping mechanisms that can be used throughout your Eating Disorder Recovery. These Positive Coping Skills will distract, calm, and eventually eliminate the negative habits and ED behaviors.
My own Coping Skills Include:
- Reading Novels. The books have to be captivating and easy-reads. I’ve got to get sucked into a story. Self-Help Books, News, Even short Blogs don’t work for me. I need a long STORY that will consume me for as long as I need to diminish my urges.
- Knitting. The repetitious movement of my hands help reduce my anxiousness after a meal. Studies show that knitting also helps you absorb information better so its a great listening technique!
- Getting out for a Walk. Or just going somewhere, anywhere, Immediately! This has helped during more dramatic urges. I would grab my sneakers or grab my car keys and just bring myself to another location entirely. Outdoors in a nature setting is great if you need to process or reflect. If you are just looking to be distracted, try a busy crowded place with a lot of noise and people watching.
What are your favorite coping skills? What has helped you in your urges… be it ED behaviors or other urges? I would love to hear new feedback to add to my ongoing list of Positive Coping Skills!
Having trouble coming up with Positive Coping Skills? Check out The Frozen Orange Society’s List of Positive Coping Skills Here.