In all honesty, this past week has been kind of messy. And, no, I am not talking about the cute Pinterest board kind of messy, where it is simply a coffee mug and baggy sweatshirt. It has been the kind of messy that feels so overwhelming to deal with that you simply sweep it under your bed and pretend it is not even there.
I am sure you may be thinking this is random, considering the past two posts have been about healing your relationship with food and your body in hopes of promoting the Body Image Blueprint, but do not fear… it always seems to end up there, at least for me. I do not know about you, but, personally, when I feel I have lost control of things or they are just too messy to contain, my solution is to control what I can: my appearance. For some reason, manipulating my body, exercise routine, or food intake is always the default.
Maybe the same is true for you. And that is a sign of resilience (and maybe a possible diagnosis, but who am I to judge). Maybe you are here to begin healing, and it does not necessarily need to be from disordered eating. However, no matter what you are healing from, for most, it is not linear, and identifying why you do what you do can ensure you keep making progress and feel supported in the meantime.
This past week, as everything began to feel messy and overwhelming, I felt myself begin to cling tighter and tighter to food rules and cardio rituals. Now I know that this is my way of finding comfort. It is familiar and easy to get “right.” Once I was able to recognize the feeling I was chasing, it became easier to replace the behavior.
This technique comes with a lot of practice and patience, but it is worth it. So, today, I just wanted to share an exercise that helps me get to this place and, hopefully, can one day do the same for you. The steps go as follow:
- Identify what unhelpful behavior you want to engage in. Is it restricting your food intake or maybe eating past a comfortable fullness? Is it skipping out on the family dinner to get in an extra work-out? Or maybe it is isolating yourself.
- Recognize what is happening around you. Are you in a stressful environment? Are there loud noises or people that do not make you feel supported? Are you overwhelmed by work or homework or the needs of others?
- Focus on what you are physically feeling in your body. Is your heart racing? Do your shoulders feel heavy? Are you having trouble breathing?
- Describe your emotional state. Are you feeling lonely? Are you feeling burdened?
- Determine how you want to feel. If you are currently feeling anxious, do you want to feel centered? If you are feeling sad, do you want to feel indifferent?
- Find an action that can evoke the feeling you desire. If I am seeking comfort, I will put on some comfy clothes, grab a weighted blanket, and watch one of my favorite comedies.
- Give yourself grace. This may not always work, or even feel reasonable. That is okay. Remember you are resilient and are doing the best you can to keep yourself alive and safe. That in and of itself is incredible.