Before you can truly commit to ongoing recovery, you have to believe that you’re worth it. You have to believe that you deserve a life of fullness, wholeness, and wellness. You have to love yourself—which can be challenging for anyone, and especially daunting for those who wrestle with the feelings of shame that often accompany eating disorders.
For as much as those in the recovery community like to emphasize self-love, however, the concept can sometimes seem needlessly abstract. What does self-love actually look like in practical terms, though? What are some concrete ways to show self-love?
How to Love Yourself While in Recovery
That’s ultimately up to you, and we offer the following only as suggestions; we hope you’ll use them to brainstorm some of your own ideas for administering self-love during eating disorder recovery.
Start each day with a word of affirmation. Before you do anything else, speak out loud some words of self-love. Compliment yourself on how you handled a problem or a challenge from the day before—or simply remind yourself that you are beautiful and worthy of love.
Keep a gratitude journal. As you sip your morning coffee and get ready for the day, take out pen and paper and write down some of the things you have in your life to be grateful for—some of the things you can celebrate. Make a goal to list three objects of gratitude every day.
Pamper yourself. Take yourself out to a massage place to have some TLC administered—or, if you rather, just stay in, light some candles, turn on some relaxing music, and give yourself a soothing foot rub.
Try something new. One way to show self-love is to push yourself outside your comfort zone. Allow yourself some exciting new experiences. It could be anything from guitar lessons to skydiving!
Express yourself. Find an outlet for your creativity. It could be journaling, writing, singing—you name it. The important thing is to pick an activity that you enjoy and that allows you to unleash some of the feelings you’ve been carrying around.
Schedule some you time. Recovery can sometimes be busy, packed with activity—but you can always set aside an evening to just be—watch a movie, go to the theater, or settle in with a good book. Guard this precious time of self-love; mark it on your calendar, and decline other offers to hang out. Time for yourself is important.
Reach out to friends and family. Are there people in your life who always encourage you, and make you feel loved? Be intentional in reaching out to them, connecting with them, spending time with them. Surround yourself with positivity.
Get those endorphins going. Take a swim. Take a walk. Take a hike. Take a bike ride. Take anything to get your body moving and to trigger a flood of endorphins. That’s guaranteed to make you feel good!
Continue meeting with your therapist and dietitian. Even if you feel like you don’t “need” it anymore, keep investing in the processes of recovery. Why? Because you are worth a total recovery from your eating disorder, and you are worth every possible effort to prevent relapse. Stay in therapy because that safeguards the progress you’ve made, and helps see your recovery through to the end.
Ultimately, there are many ways to show self-love—and you’re welcome to take us up on any one of these suggestions, or think of some new ones all your own. Regardless, make self-love the cornerstone of your recovery, and remember that you are worth love; you are worth recovery.[cta] Seek the treatment you need to support a full recovery! [/cta]