Maintaining eating disorder recovery is no easy feat. Eating disorders are chronic, progressive conditions that affect every aspect of your wellbeing. Your recovery depends on your ability to continue working on yourself even after learning to manage your most pressing symptoms.
Eating disorders are often thought of as physical disorders. Food is a necessary part of your physical condition and developing an unhealthy relationship with it can cause serious problems. Eating disorders have a significant impact on your physical health and leave you at risk of developing serious, long-term complications.
At the same time, eating disorders are much more than a physical condition. Though they have a significant impact on physical health and appearance, that is only one part of maintaining recovery.
Eating disorder recovery requires a comprehensive, holistic approach to healing. This means that both mental and emotional health is important to recovery, too. You can’t maintain recovery from an eating disorder while only paying attention to the physical aspect of the condition. You must consider mental and emotional health as well.
Why is mental and emotional health important to recovery? What role does each play in the development and healing of an eating disorder?
Eating disorders are a mental health disorder and have a notable impact on mental health. Many people who struggle with an eating disorder also suffere from other co-occurring mental illnesses. According to a study of people hospitalized for an eating disorder, 97% had one or more co-occurring conditions. These included:
- 94% had a co-occurring mood disorder, mainly depression
- 56% had a co-occurring anxiety disorder
- 20% had obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- 22% had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- 22% had an alcohol or substance use disorder
You can’t overcome your eating disorder without also addressing your mental health. The line between your disorders is often blurry. Eating disorder behaviors tend to become a way to relieve your symptoms, while simultaneously making your symptoms worse. You cannot heal one disorder without healing the other.
Addressing mental health in eating disorder recovery is just as important as your physical health. Your recovery won’t last if you do not work through the negative mental health that underlies your eating disorder behaviors.
Emotional health is another significant contributor to your eating disorder. Difficult emotions tend to be a trigger for eating disorder behaviors. Whether you turn to food to cope with overwhelming emotions or restrict food to create the illusion of control, your emotions often play a big role in your eating disorder.
On average, people develop eating disorders between the ages of 12 and 13 years old. This is also the time when adolescents begin learning behaviors they use to work through the sudden physical and emotional changes taking place. Adolescents who develop eating disorders tend to use their behaviors to manage these overwhelming emotions.
Addressing emotional health is a crucial part of breaking this pattern. If you don’t learn the vital coping skills needed to sit with and work through difficult emotions, your eating disorder recovery will always be at risk. Emotional health is an important aspect of developing a strong foundation for your eating disorder recovery.
Healing Mentally, Emotionally, and Physically
Mental, emotional, and physical health during eating disorder recovery function like three sides of a triangle. When you’re missing even one side the triangle is incomplete. Poor mental health, poor emotional health, and poor physical health all challenge the foundation of your recovery. You must protect each part of your recovery equally. But how can you make sure you’re healing mentally, emotionally, and physically?
Eliminate Negative Influences
Take an honest assessment of your life. How much negativity surrounds you in your daily life? Is social media a help or a hindrance to your mental health? Are your friends a positive, encouraging group of people to be around? If you find yourself surrounded by negative influences, eliminate as many avenues of negativity as you can.
Surround Yourself With Support
As the saying goes, you’re the sum of the 5 people closest to you. After removing those sources of negativity, build up a group of supportive family and friends to surround yourself with. You’re more likely to remain in eating disorder recovery and heal mentally, emotionally, and physically when you have positive people surrounding you.
Get Yourself Moving
Don’t underestimate the power of exercise when it comes to managing mental and emotional health. This doesn’t mean exercise is the cure for all your struggles but it is a great way to get endorphins going. As you likely already know, getting your body moving a few times a week is a natural mood booster. Don’t forget to include this in your recovery plan.
Don’t Neglect the Help of Treatment
Treatment facilities are a vital part of the recovery of millions of people. Eating disorder treatment places you in a safe, controlled environment where you can focus on learning the skills needed to overcome your condition.
Facilities like Magnolia Creek are equipped to help you build a strong foundation for recovery, including your physical, mental, and emotional health. Our facility is located just outside of Birmingham, Alabama, in a beautiful stretch of scenery. We provide care for adult women struggling with eating disorders, taking an individualized approach for each woman who comes under our care.
If you’re interested in learning more about the programs available at Magnolia Creek, reach out to our admissions team today!