Why Creating Space in your Recovery is Essential

In your eating disorder, you may spend the day counting calories in your head and arguing with yourself about when and what you can eat next. You may plan your whole life around your food or exercise schedule, leaving little room for anything else like going out to eat, social events, or just relaxing at home for the night. There’s little space in your mind for other thoughts or beliefs – the eating disorder shuts those right down.

Yet, you’re also here reading this Recovery Warriors post for a reason. You found yourself here because you intuitively can feel there is another way of approach food, your body, and your life. In each moment, there is the potential for a new perspective, a new choice, or a different belief to form.

Many of the clients I work with are self-proclaimed perfectionists or know that they pack their schedule full of classes, work, appointments, or other activities. Free space seems scary because it’s a time when you’re alone with yourself and your thoughts, or you may rationalize it as unproductive or wasted time.

What if that free space was an opportunity for discovery? Creating space in your recovery is essential for exploring how you use food in your life and what else is going on. Rarely is it solely about the food – there are always underlying fears that manifest as food issues.

The eating disorder is protecting you from deeper issues because it’s actually more convenient and easier to obsess about food than exploring your deep-rooted fears.

Creating space allows you the chance to dig up the eating disorder’s roots in order to start to create a grounded life based on your own personal values and intentions. A few ways you could create space in your recovery for this:

Working with your recovery team.

Therapy and sessions with your team members are a wonderful space to explore your eating disorder. Think of this not as an appointment but a weekly gift of self-discovery for yourself. It’s not simply another thing to check off of your list, but it’s a time to be open and vulnerable with yourself and team.

Make space in your daily schedule.

Find time each day to be with yourself, and do what feels nurturing to you. That could be journaling your thoughts, meditating, chilling in child’s pose or a restorative yoga pose, or coloring. Often in silence is when your voice of intuition speaks to you, and you may be able to find insight beyond your eating disorder voices in this space.

Create space for meals.

Give yourself time for your meals during recovery. Instead of rushing through meals to get them over with, or eating on the go always, choose one meal a day to sit down at a table to eat. Adding mindfulness into your meals allows you to create nourishing experiences with food, start to listen to your body’s cues, and be with the emotions you may feel around food. If this is challenging for you, you could eat with your dietitian or therapist for more support.

The secret is this isn’t only a tool for your eating disorder recovery. This is a life skill! I’ve found it essential to continually create and leave space in my life for reflection, integration, and breathing room, especially in our fast-paced world. As more of a sensitive person and introvert, I need more spaciousness in my life for “me” time to recharge and connect back to myself. 

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