The “why” behind many people’s eating disorder recovery relates, in some way, to being able to live a joyful and fulfilled life. Even so, life can get in the way of efforts to incorporate the fun events, people, and experiences that create a happy life. These activities are an important asset to continued recovery, as well as bringing joy to your day.
Leisure activities such as taking a nap, going on vacation, or having a coffee break “serve as ‘breathers’ that provide a chance to take a break, engage in a pleasurable diversionary activity, and consequently induce positive emotions and reduce stress .”
Additionally, specific hobbies can “act as ‘restorers’ that facilitate the individual’s recovery from stress by replenishing damaged or depleted resources .” If you see the point but are struggling to find time to schedule fun into your life, consider these tips.
The Long vs. Short Game in Eating Disorder Recovery
I understand that you are likely aware of the mental health benefits of fun, hobbies, and down-time but also find trouble scheduling it due to work and other responsibilities. If this is a challenge for you, consider that prioritizing these activities will help you in the long-run.
Putting off self-care time will undoubtedly lead to you eventually feeling overwhelmed and overworked. This reduces the efficiency of the immune system and increases your chances of getting sick or needing to take more time-off later due to burn-out.
Prioritizing your time for self-care and hobbies in the present will keep you from taking time off later for sickness or burn-out. The time that you would have preferred to spend feeling well and doing more enjoyable activities.
Additionally, not taking time for fun increases your likelihood of eating disorder relapse, which, you guessed it, would mean more time out from work doing yet another thing that is less fun. Prioritizing time now for leisure activities and joy will reduce your chances of relapse, burn-out in eating disorder recovery, or illness later.
Small Bursts Make a Big Difference
The thought of scheduling anything outside of your work-day may seem exhausting or impossible. Try to consider that these activities do not need to be week-long vacations far away or day-long activities.
You can insert fun and joy into your life with an after-work social or movement routine, a dance party in the living room, a weekend stay-cation, reading in bed every night, or a night of face masks and nail painting.
These are only a few activities that can take as little time or money as you are comfortable with. Thinking small may make including fun into your life a more manageable and accessible goal.
You Deserve It
Ultimately, the biggest reason that adding joy into your eating disorder recovered life is important is that you deserve it. You fought hard for eating disorder recovery and freedom from a harrowing disorder that threatened to steal your joy.
You did not do so to work as a drone with no time for yourself. You fought to experience the full spectrum of emotions, to be present in every moment, and to feel fulfilled in those moments. You are worthy of joy, happiness, and fun, and these things are available to you.
Resources: Pressman, S. D. Et al. (2009). Association of enjoyable leisure activities with psychological and physical well-being. Psychosomatic Medicine, 71:7.
About the Author:
Margot Rittenhouse, MS, PLPC, NCC is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.
As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on 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 October 29, 2020, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on October 29, 2020, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC