Why a Change of Scenery is More Important in Recovery Than You Think

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We live in an incredibly physical world, and we navigate and understand it through our senses that help guide us and allow us to understand things that we may find confusing and messy. Although we are born with the ability to sense things, our perception is entirely individual and based on many things including our experiences and our growth.

There have been certain points in my life when I have found my childhood home to be incredibly toxic because of the memories I had from that place. I hated sitting in my kitchen, being in my bedroom, all of it felt toxic to me, and although I do not love the large suburban town of New Jersey I grew up in, I always felt safe in a quiet space within a five mile radius of my nutritionist’s and therapist’s offices a few towns over from my home.

I felt like I have happy memories there. I felt calm, protected, and I felt like my little eating disorder bubble I had at home could not harm me as much. Scenery is such a large part of our experiences and our mental illnesses, and should also be accounted for in our recovery.

We take in our world through various cues, and visual perception is an incredibly important way to begin to understand yourself, your recovery and where you feel safe. There have been times where I won’t let myself leave my room because I want to wallow with my disorder, or I can’t leave my house because I need the disorder and stepping out my front door would mean that I don’t want to use behaviors. My eating disorder knows me, and it knows where I feel safe and where I don’t feel safe, and it uses my experiences against me, and I feel like I can’t leave, but I can.

Oftentimes, making the choice to change the scenery or do something different can be easy for some, but incredibly difficult for those suffering from mental illnesses. Just stepping out of your bed, your room, your front door to breath in the fresh air seems impossible, because doing so might give you the power that the disorder cannot bear to relinquish.

Changing your scenery from as little as a few minutes to a few hours in your day can be a game changer in the cycle that your disorder has created. At times, it is easier to feel comfortable where the eating disorder feels most comfortable because that is what you know best, and leaving that space might mean that you actually care enough about yourself and your recovery to break the cycle.

Making that small change is terrifying because it can feel paralyzing and liberating all at the same time. It might mean that the eating disorder is out of its comfort zone, and so are you, but that just means that you are exposing yourself to new environments and new memories that extend outside your disorder and inside your own recovery!

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