7 Tips to Help Cope With Your Eating Disorder – TeenVogue.com

Posted: August 17, 2017 at 5:44 am

I have a radio station in my head. Ten years ago, before I pursued recovery for bulimia, this radio station played very loudly. Today, its still there, but very faint white noise. A vast majority of the time, I dont pay attention to it and keep moving. But sometimes, in quiet moments, it can sound like the radio station is tuned between stationsits mostly grainy, but I can decipher some words. Sometimes I even stop and listen to it for a few minutes.

The radio station, when its discernible, says stuff like exercise every day or you should feel bad for eating that or your bellys disgusting." One of the things I did 10 years ago when the radio station was blaring nearly every day was enter Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is a type of talk therapy, according to the Mayo clinic, that helps you recognize negative thinking so you can better cope with challenges. According to a 2010 study published in Psychiatric Clinics of North America, CBT has been found to have a sustained and marked effect on certain eating disorder behaviors, and the Mayo Clinic notes its effectiveness for people with eating disorders in general. Ive teamed up with Cecilia Dintino, Psy.D, a psychologist who practices CBT with many eating disordered patients, to share some of the activities I do whenever Dana FM gets a little too loud.

Lie in bed with a heating pad/hot water bottle. As an eating disordered person, I thought doing anything to my body that wouldnt cause a change in my appearance was pointless. But I learned that getting cozy is a powerful tool.

Dr. Dintino: Placing heat on the body calms the nervous system and soothes the body. Soothing the body calms the mind.

Use Yoga Toes. Sometimes the best thing to do when experiencing negative thoughts is to be still. I sit with these foot stretchers on and read a magazine or watch tv and its great because you cant walk around with them while youre wearing them.

Dr. Dintino: I like this method of instilling stillness. We all have trouble slowing down and when we keep our feet running our brain follows. While you let your toes stretch, practice cultivating a mindful presence. The benefits of mindfulness are plentiful, and include self-awareness, self-control and distress tolerance.

Light a candle/incense/burn some sage. I am a big fan of incense. Ill burn a stick and promise Ill engage in a positive behavior (like cleaning my bedroom) for at least the duration of time it takes for the whole stick to burn.

Dr. Dintino: Smell is the most powerful of the senses and we often underestimate its potency. Observing scents provides focus and soothing. And housecleaning provides many benefits. Fully participating in the activity of cleaning provides a distraction and leads to a sense of mastery. A clean room regulates our bodies and minds.

Hula hoop. Its a low-impact exercise that doesnt feel like exercise. Itll get excess nervous energy out and its difficult to sustain for extended periods of time. Your body will tell you when youre finished. I only hula hoop for the duration of one or two songs.

Dr. Dintino: Love this. Hula-hooping is a form of movement that can serve to shift energy, increase heart variability and get the endorphins flowing. It also takes skill and concentration so the mind has to pivot from automatic thoughts to the strategic rhythm and balance that hooping requires.

Turn on the radio and sing along with it. The best way to drown out the voice in your head is to sing louder than it.

Dr. Dintino: There is endless research declaring musics capacity to elicit, shift and transform emotions. Singing is an ancient method of healing. Every major sacred ritual includes a chant or a song. Singing lowers stress, releases muscle tension and decreases the stress hormone cortisol.

Call a friend. Or even betterwrite a friend a letter. Resist the urge to text; sometimes its better to hear a voice on the other end of the phone. Ive had a pen pal (that I met in eating disorder rehab) for the last 11 years and I love it because its like writing a diary entry without the pressure of keeping a diary and receiving mail is the BEST.

Dr. Dintino: Reciprocal relationships are significantly correlated with well-being and life satisfaction. Contributing to others improves mood. Even thinking about others that we love or love us increases a feel good hormone called oxytocin. Writing down our thoughts and feelings has been proven to promote psychological healing and post-traumatic growth.

Take a bubble bath. I also recommend putting on a face mask because you cant do anything self-harming until it dries (and by the time it dries, you probably wont feel like doing that anyway).

Dr. Dintino: Water is an all-time tincture for emotional distress. Hot water works for anxiety, cold water for anger.Overall, all of these activities will serve to build new habits that in time will replace the old, says Dr. Dintino. Remember, unlearning is harder than learning. Doing new and different things gives our brains and bodies more options.

Related: Lena Dunham Talked About How She Copes With OCD

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7 Tips to Help Cope With Your Eating Disorder - TeenVogue.com

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