By Natalie A. Asayag, MSW, LSW, Guest Contributor
For individuals in recovery from an eating disorder, the nagging fear of a slip, lapse, or full-on relapse can underlie daily activities. When one has worked so hard to create a healthy life promoting recovery, this anxiety can feel omnipresent, lurking around every corner.
Fortunately, recovery doesn’t have to be riddled with fear. Taking time to explore and connect with your experiences, perspectives, and feelings through writing can significantly assuage the distress that comes from fear and anxiety.
Journaling is a valuable tool for guiding introspection and inspiration throughout recovery. Taking a big “exhale” in the form of exploration through writing will allow you the opportunity to explore your perspective on your path, journey, and adventure. Allow yourself to take some time to explore the following journaling prompts to get you started.
- What does recovery look like to you? If you are unable to imagine this for yourself, imagine it for a friend. What would it look like for that individual? How would they feel along their journey? How would they know they are feeling better?
- Which individuals within your support system who accept you for who you are? Have you worked to create healthy boundaries, despite the discomfort of doing so? If you haven’t, are you willing to assess the holes or negativity in your support system? How might you do this when you feel ready?
- How did you handle a challenging situation one year ago versus how you would today? What is different? What lessons have you learned to help you make positive changes in your approach to challenges?
- Can you identify the critical eating disorder voice? Do you allow your healthy, mindful voice to counter the unhealthy voice? How so? If not, what would you like this dialogue to look like
- How present is your self-care routine? What makes you feel good? How often do you partake in these feel good activities and practices?
- Do you hear yourself apologizing often? Tune in to your words and take some time to note how often and in what scenarios you find yourself saying “I’m sorry.” Do the scenarios warrant an apology or have you become accustomed to apologizing? If the latter, explore why.
- Do you feel like a burden to those around you or do you feel you deserve to take up space in your everyday life? Just in case you forgot: it’s the latter.
- How could you be kinder to yourself? More patient?
Recovery takes time and patience, both with yourself and your journey. Journaling can be a valuable tool for keeping you connected to your values. Writing can also help you stay honest and in touch with how you are caring for yourself. If journaling is not your preference, then I encourage you to explore art, dance, and other forms of expression to help forge a solid self-connection. Remember: You are enough. You are worth recovery. You are not your eating disorder.
Natalie A. Asayag, MSW, LSW, is a psychotherapist and the co-owner and founder of Renew Wellness & Psychotherapy, LLC, located in historic downtown Easton, Pennsylvania. Much of her work focuses on disordered eating/eating disorders, anxiety and depression, body kindness, self-compassion and mindfulness. Natalie most recently presented at the 2017 PA-NASW Social Work Conference, focusing on the intersection of substance abuse and eating disorders. She enjoys helping clients reclaim their sense of self, promoting positive self worth. Renew Wellness & Psychotherapy, LLC can be found on Instagram and Facebook.