Advice by Kaela: How You Treat Yourself Shouldn’t Change Based On The Day Of The Year
By Kaela Scott
Q: The Holidays have just ended and now my anxiety has gone up. All of a sudden it feels like everyone is talking about going on a diet and how their New Years resolutions are to lose weight and workout a lot. A part of me feels like I need to do the same even though I know that wouldn’t be healthy for me. How should I navigate these next few weeks when everyone is obsessing over weight and exercise?
A: I have so much compassion for individuals who struggle with eating disorders at any time of the year but my heart really goes out to them at this time when it feels like the whole world is triggering. A sad reality is that the world we live in has been highly impacted and controlled by the diet and beauty industry and January 1st has been engrained in our minds that it is a day to focus on things we feel aren’t okay about us. Eating disorders thrive in this mindset and when others express similar views it is often compelling to join the ranks and push yourself harder. This is destructive and the very last thing that will set you up to recover or feel okay about who you are as a person. As the New Year fast approaches there are a few things I think are important to keep in mind as you enter into 2019:
- How You Treat Yourself Shouldn’t Change Based On The Day Of The Year: You want to develop a relationship with yourself that is loving and consistent regardless of whether it is January, June or December. While I am not opposed to New Year’s Resolutions, the research shows that 80% of people give up on their resolutions by February, which ultimately just leaves them feeling like they have disappointed themselves. Instead of using January 1st as a time to set lofty goals (healthy or unhealthy), come back to the type of relationship you want to have with yourself and your recovery. Write it down and get clear on what you can and need to do to make that relationship a reality. For example, do you want to be someone who practices kindness and self-care in trying moments. Do you want to work on accepting the feelings you are having and treating them with patience and compassion instead of intolerance or avoidance? What do you think you need to do to remind yourself of these goals? Come back to what you wrote every week or once a month and use it as the foundation for how you choose to engage in your life all year long.
- Set Boundaries: Boundaries are critical to recovery and wellbeing. Learning to say no to things that don’t serve us and yes to things that do is one of the most important skills you can learn in life. Often times, boundaries are set with the people in our lives but it is also important to learn to set them with ourselves so we can be happy. For example, a healthy boundary to set with yourself at this time of year is to not allow yourself to set destructive New Years Resolutions, regardless of what people around you are doing. A healthy boundary to set with others could be to ask them to not talk about their weight loss or exercise goals around you. Whatever your boundaries are, be sure to hold tight to them during this transition into January and come back to what you know is healthy and will promote your overall wellbeing.
- Remember That This Too Shall Pass: Right now everyone is feeling hyper focused about the New Year because it is what society is programed to do after the holidays. That doesn’t make it okay, but it’s real. One of the most challenging parts of recovery is learning to live a recovered, healthy life in an often sick and unhealthy world. After a period of time, people will stop talking about their New Years Resolutions and their lives will transition into their usual routine. It is okay to use this month to really focus on taking care of yourself and to take some space from the people in your life that feel especially triggering. Doing so will not only give you more time to fill your own cup with the things that you love, but will also help you start the year with you making yourself a priority; something we all need to do a little more of.
January 1st can be a time of healthy transition, disordered goals or it can just be another day. Either way, you get to choose. If you are someone who likes to have goals, then set the goals according to what you know will be good for you, not your eating disorder. And if you don’t, then choose to see January 1st for what it is, just another day of the week. We really get to make of it what we want. Either way, know that we are here to help you process if the transition into 2019 is a hard one.
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.