People deal with change in different ways. Some welcome it with open arms. For others, it can be a significant trigger.
There is a variety of effective coping tools available to guide you through change and transitional periods. Knowing which coping tools work for you is half the battle and can prevent unwelcome change from leading to a relapse.
In the Moment
Coping mechanisms that you can employ in the moment are helpful to cope short-term. Often, this can get you through the most potentially triggering times.
Finding humor in a situation can be effective in the moment as you manage difficult changes. Even if this takes the form of dark humor, just reframing things in a way that takes the scary nature of change out of the equation can allow you to take a moment and breathe.
Practicing mindfulness if you are triggered can similarly give you the space to process what is happening in a healthy way.
One effective mindfulness exercise is S-T-O-P. This is a short exercise that has four steps, including “Stop,” “Take a Deep Breath,” “Observe,” and “Proceed with This Awareness.” If you find yourself unable to emotionally handle what is being thrown your way, take a moment alone and S-T-O-P.
Responding instead of reacting in these moments is effective at preserving not only your mental health, but also your interpersonal relationships. Giving yourself the time to respond appropriately instead of reacting out of pure emotion can empower you to handle each situation with grace.
Long-Term Coping Tools
Other coping mechanisms can be employed more consistently with long-term results. For example, journaling is an effective coping tool for many people. It allows you to process what you are feeling in a cathartic, yet private, way.
Yoga and meditation can also become regular practice, while arming you to cope with change and other triggers as they arise. Opening yourself up to the mind-body connection is important in recovery, particularly when it comes to maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself and not returning to harmful coping mechanisms in the moment.
If you are looking for effective coping tools but unsure where to start, begin by noting what you enjoy in life. This can be extremely simple and set you on the right path to build your arsenal of coping tools.
As an example, if you love animals, think about volunteering at a local animal shelter. Become the neighborhood dog-walker in your spare time. Foster an animal waiting for its forever home. Find a way to use your passion to keep you fulfilled in a valuable way.
Reaching Out for Help
Sometimes, the best thing to do when coping with change or other difficult transitions is to reach out for help. Know yourself and your own red flags so that you can seek help before harmful behaviors surface.
Reaching out looks different depending on your personal story and where you are in recovery. It might mean just reaching out to a friend to grab a cup of coffee and vent about what you are going through.
In other cases, reaching out might mean seeking professional help. It is common to wait until the last minute to reach out for help, but being proactive at the first sign that you need that extra boost of support can make a big difference in your recovery process.
Change Can Be a Good Thing
Change is inevitable. There is no reason to fight it because it is coming eventually, in many ways and forms. Some change is positive and some is negative, but embracing change and going into it with an open mind will support your recovery.
Often, individuals struggling with eating disorders fear change because it is unknown and therefore outside of their comfort zone. It is vital to recognize that change is often a good thing, even if it does not feel that way at the time.
Though even positive transitions in life can lead to a relapse due to unforeseen circumstances and related triggers, there is no reason to fear change. Knowing the potential to be triggered and going into change armed with effective coping tools is all that you can do.
Breaking free from your comfort zone and challenging yourself is a part of rebelling against your eating disorder. In recovery, give yourself the freedom to embrace change and live your life to the fullest.
Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!
How do you cope with change in ways that support your recovery?
About the Author: Courtney Howard is the Director of Operations & Business Development at Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. from San Diego State University, holds a paralegal certificate in Family Law, and is a Certified Domestic Violence Advocate. After obtaining her certification as a life coach, Courtney launched Lionheart Eating Disorder Recovery Coaching in 2015 and continues to be a passionate advocate for awareness and recovery.
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 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.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on November 23, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com