The transition from summer back to school can be difficult for any student. This transition can be even more challenging for students in eating disorder recovery. Are there any best practices for returning to school?
The stressors that come along with school, such as academic and social stressors, can contribute to disordered eating. Therefore, it’s important to plan ahead for this transition.
Best Practices for Returning to School
Here are the best practices for returning to school in eating disorder recovery:
Make time for recovery. Even with a busier schedule, it’s important to prioritize recovery. This includes continuing to attend appointments with your treatment team at a frequency that will continue to support your recovery. This also includes keeping your long-term health and wellness in mind in spite of the stressors that come with school.
Identify your triggers. Before returning to school, identify what may trigger disordered eating thoughts and behaviors. Triggers may be things like overhearing classmates talk about their bodies, eating with others in the lunchroom, or the amount of math homework you’ll be facing.
Have a go-to list of coping skills and self-care plans that will help you manage these triggers. This will help reduce any risk of relapse.
Develop a healthy daily structure. Finding a daily structure means finding balance. It’s having a routine that provides regular sleep and regular meals.
It’s a schedule that includes social activities that make it difficult to isolate, as well as things like making time for academic efforts to prevent school work from “building up.”
Self-care is an important part of the daily structure — as part of the best practices for returning to school, be sure to build in time each day to take care of yourself and manage daily stressors.
Get support. Know that when things get difficult, you don’t have to figure it out all on your own. Call in your support system — whether it be parents, friends, teachers, the school counselor, or a formal support group — for support around whatever is troubling you.
Many students in recovery need support around academic workload, time management, stress management, meal prep, and/or mealtime support.
Consult with your treatment team. Work closely with your treatment team to address any triggers or challenges that may arise. If you have any concerns, be sure to share them with your treatment team, as they will be able to support you and offer up individualized recommendations.
If you begin to feel like things are getting on top of you, like you’re not coping as well, or returning to old disordered eating thoughts or behaviors, it’s important that you reach out to your treatment team as soon as possible.
Special consideration for student-athletes. Work closely with your coach.
For students in recovery who are returning to athletics along with school, it’s important that your coach understands how to support you in your recovery.
Coaches should be aware of any recommendations being made by your treatment team and be willing to support you in following those recommendations.
This is important for both your short-term and long-term health and wellbeing.
About the Author:
Chelsea Fielder-Jenks is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice in Austin, Texas. Chelsea works with individuals, families, and groups primarily from a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) framework.
She has extensive experience working with adolescents, families, and adults who struggle with eating, substance use, and various co-occurring mental health disorders. You can learn more about Chelsea and her private practice at ThriveCounselingAustin.com.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published on September 11, 2019, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on September 11, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC