As the near year begins, many people turn to the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. Given the challenges of the last two years, it is safe to say that many are hoping to establish resolutions that will bring about happiness in the coming months. It is common for resolutions to focus on exercise, dieting, weight loss, or choosing healthier lifestyle habits to enhance overall health and well-being in the coming year. Although these changes can be beneficial when properly integrated into one’s lifestyle, they also enhance stress and pressure around adhering to them.
For someone struggling with an eating disorder, resolutions focused on body image can be particularly triggering. Also, the pressure to keep up with resolutions can trigger a relapse for someone currently in recovery.
If you are one of the many who is considering a New Year’s resolution, try to focus on resolutions that seek to improve your overall mental health. These resolutions that steer clear of numbers (calories, weight, clothing sizes, etc.) can also help reduce the potential for relapse.
Focus on Counting Gratitude Over Calories
Choose a resolution that is not focused on physical appearance. When in recovery, it is important to remember that your mental and spiritual health is equally, if not more important, than physical appearance. Studies suggest that more than 80% of resolutions connected to diet and exercise fail before February 1.
Focus on selecting a resolution that can enhance your positivity. Write down five blessings that are grateful for each day. Creating a gratitude list and “counting” the blessings you are thankful for can help reduce negativity and improve stress as you embrace the new year.
Resolve to Start a New Self-Care Routine
Entering recovery after struggling with disordered eating is a significant milestone on your road to overall positive health and well-being. Despite this considerable success, many who have struggled with body image concerns or disordered eating continue to struggle with habits that involve weight checking, urges to exercise, or other harmful habits that restrict recovery success.
Instead of focusing on the negative, choose to engage in new practices that focus on mental health and self-care. For example, instead of scrolling your social media feed and feeling stressed over how others perceive ideal body image, choose to read a book. Schedule daily mindfulness meditation or a yoga class instead of calorie (or weight) checking daily. These practices can help you focus on the positive and the “now” instead of contemplating the negative triggers that may lead to relapse.
Try Something New
An excellent resolution is to try something new or different. Perhaps you have always wanted to try painting, dancing, or horseback riding. Resolving to get back something you love or begin a new adventure is an excellent way to engage in self-care and reduce stress. It is no surprise that people experience joy and relaxation when engaging in activities they enjoy. A benefit to many hobbies is that there is not a strong focus on things that may trigger someone in eating disorder recovery. Also, you will likely find engaging in hobbies with like-minded individuals who share similar interests is an excellent way to focus on things outside of worries about food, body image, or other potential relapse triggers.
It is Okay to Make Mistakes
It is ok to permit yourself to make mistakes, regardless of how far you have come in your recovery journey. The backbone of many resolutions is demanding and sometimes impossible standards. When we fail to achieve these standards, it can lead to feelings of failure or shame. It is vital to remember that recovery from any mental health struggle is not a linear path.
Everyone will make mistakes or struggle with negative triggers at some point. This does not mean you have failed in your recovery. Instead of using your resolutions to enhance stressors and triggers, use them to allow yourself to gracefully walk down your road to recovery, knowing that with grace comes the occasional setback. Acknowledging that despite these setbacks, will help you continue to get better and remember all the progress you have made so far.
Resolve to Ask for Help When You Need To
When you are in recovery, it can be challenging to acknowledge the struggle and ask for help. It is also normal to fear potential relapse and worry about how relapse may impact your long-term health and well-being. It is essential to reach out for help when you need extra support, especially if you experience triggers during the holiday season. Magnolia Creek focuses on the unique needs of women in recovery from disordered eating, we can help you manage these triggers.
Resolutions made in the new year can indeed be challenging, but not all resolutions are bad. However, it is essential to be mindful of the expectations and goals you set as part of your resolutions. The successes you achieve as part of your resolutions will inevitably play a role in your ongoing recovery from disordered eating. This year, choose resolutions that support your recovery and journey to lasting wellness. Avoid potentially relapse-triggering resolutions that directly or indirectly focus on dieting, unhealthy exercise, or weight. Also, try to ensure your resolutions are open-ended and realistic for where you are on your recovery journey. Flexible goals are often healthier and significantly more attainable than goals with “final” outcomes.
Our caring and compassionate Magnolia Creek team is focused on the unique needs of women seeking to embrace healthier relationships with food and eating. For anyone, at any stage in their recovery, triggers may feel more plentiful and prominent during this time of year. Let us help you continue moving forwards with your recovery resolutions.