Advice by Kaela: I Am Heading Back To School And Am Worried About Maintaining My Recovery
By Kaela Scott
Q: I am heading back to school this year and am worried about maintaining my recovery when I am under all that stress. Any thoughts?
A: I love this question and in large part because simply asking and being worried about this very valid concern means you are already taking steps to prevent a relapse. Truthfully in these situations, awareness is key. School likely will be stressful. There is a lot of pressure to do well and a lot of demand on your time that you may have otherwise used to focus on your wellbeing.
School is a stressor for many people. Exams, papers, labs all can leave us feeling overwhelmed and anxious. While I would like to say that there is a trick to having a stress-free year, the reality is that stress is a part of life and we have to learn how to deal with it in effective, healthy ways.
One of the most important things you can do to manage your recovery while under stress is to get into a routine. When we look at people who typically do really well in their recovery, they started by creating a routine for themselves that focused on their recovery goals, self care and the other responsibilities they have (school, work, friends etc). The important thing to remember here is that your routine needs to be balanced. Focusing only on school means you will neglect your recovery and yourself. Focusing only on your recovery will likely cause you to get behind in your studies.
One of the most important things you can do to manage your recovery while under stress is to get into a routine.
To have a successful and balanced year, spend some time looking at what you want to prioritize and how much time you think each piece will require. Recovery needs to be a focus, not only because stress can often cause us to resort to destructive coping mechanisms, but also because school will be that much more difficult mentally, physically, and emotionally if your recovery slips.
If self-care and balance remain a priority then recovery will be easier. We have to make time and space to focus on being well. There will, of course, be moments when it is difficult to prioritize time off because you have an exam or a paper due. You don’t want to expect mastery and perfection from yourself. Instead, you want to know that you will follow your routine for the most part and that you can be flexible without changes in your routine being a threat to your recovery. Keeping a healthy mindset that we can tackle stress and maintain our recovery is really important.
School in itself is one way of working on setting yourself up to have a successful and happy life. Continuing to keep your recovery at the forefront during your studies, and doing what it takes to keep moving towards your recovery goals, is another important piece of achieving the healthy life that you want.
Kaela Scott is a Registered Clinical Counsellor who specializes in Eating Disorders. She runs her own private practice and works with the Looking Glass Foundation in both their summer camp and their Hand In Hand Program. She has been passionate about working with eating disorders since freeing herself from her own struggle and realizing what it is like to be happy and well. When she isn’t working, you can find Kaela either cozying up with a cup of tea and her friends or up in the mountains going for a hike.