Finding Balance in Eating Disorder Recovery

Symbol Scales is made of stones of various shapes

Contributor: Amy M. Klimek, MA, LCPC, Director of Program Development / Eating Disorder Program Coordinator, Timberline Knolls

You have heard the word “balance” in every group and individual therapy session. Time and time again, you have listened to others talk about it, sharing their own stories; yet the application of balance is still so challenging to put into action. So, what is balance in eating disorder recovery?

We all crave balance in our lives from how much work we are taking home with us each day, to finding time for family, friends, play, and even rest. We crave it. We desire it. We speak the word balance all the while our actions tell otherwise. Now, we need to add it to our recovery, to stay abstinent and sober.

Seeking a Distraction

Getting back on your feet after treatment can prove challenging. Often those new to recovery and those who have been there before throw themselves back into their jobs, family responsibilities, figuring if they keep busy, it will distract them from any urge to return to the disorder.

When we are out of balance, we feel out of control usually falling back to the former, familiar, false relief of the old habits. In a split second, we are back to our compulsion of choice–restricting intake to control, binge and purge cycle to numb, or the never-ending mile driven run to escape.

The Benefits of Balance

Balance is possible and necessary in recovery. Balance supports the tranquility of one’s life and experiences. It helps us stay motivated when life throws us a curve ball. It can be the very serenity one needs to move recovery to the next step.

Speak openly about what you need in your recovery at your work space. Start a conversation with your boss about your job responsibilities, work schedule including scheduled meal and break times to support your re-nourishment. Discuss options of returning to work slowly and mindfully so you can stay committed to you recovery and your and balance

Leave your job at work. Focus your time outside of work with your family, friends, and to attend support groups. In the beginning, your recovery will be busy with therapy sessions, 12 step meetings, and recovery groups. Enlist your support system for help with your new schedule. Your support system is crucial to your recovery. They know you best, your strength, your weaknesses and can help you find balance in your life to reduce stress and encourage stability.

Saying No

Addiction is a disease of “more;” the disease that pulled you into situations you were not prepared to handle. Maybe you were trying to fit in, or maybe you were a people pleaser; when you could not make you or anyone else happy, you internalized the blame and turned to your eating disorder for comfort. “No” is an acceptable answer.

It is not saying “no” to everything. Instead, it is saying “no” to the people, projects, and places that are not in line with your core values and life purpose. Saying “no” can help protect your time and energy to the other things you want to do to support your recovery. This enables you to say “yes” to the other events that help you move closer to your goals in recovery.

Gain perspective with balance. In the chaos of life, it is easy to lose momentum. Recovery offers a new lens to see life through. Without balance, we are limited to our view.

Recovery invites us to see a larger picture of our life purpose, reflecting on the choices we have in the moment to support what we need to abstain and stay sober from our addiction. Your time and commitment now is healing. Balance is a practice of self-preservation, self-forgiveness, and self-reflection.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What types of activities have you said “no” to, in order to support your recovery?

Amy Klimek photoAbout the Author: As the Eating Disorder Program Coordinator, Amy facilitates supervision for Eating Disorder Specialists, offers support through training to TK staff, and provides education on eating disorders to the community.

Amy started at Timberline Knolls as a Behavioral Health Specialist. As such, she provided support at the milieu level for all residents. She transitioned to Eating Disorder Specialist in 2012, supporting healing in present moment experiences for residents who struggled with eating disorders and body image. Amy earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology from the University of Illinois. She was awarded a Master’s Degree in Counseling specializing in both community and school counseling from Lewis University.

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 August 12, 2016
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