Self-Care Tips for Teens in Recovery

Woman smelling a flower and using Mindfulness in Eating Disorder Recovery

Being a teenager in eating disorder recovery is incredibly rough. While you’ve been battling something severe, it may feel like everyone has kept moving without you, and you need to jump back in at full speed. Instead, ease back into life and take care of yourself as you do so.

Find Your Happy

It’s cliche for a reason – everyone has to find out what makes them happy!

What tools, skills, or hobbies bring you joy and help you to cope with any stresses you’re experiencing, recovery or otherwise?

This can be difficult, as those hobbies you did before recovery may not be safe for you anymore. Even so, now is the perfect time to try something new!

If you aren’t sure, you can ask your treatment team or clinician to help you find hobbies or coping skills that bring you joy and free you from any disordered thoughts. Some activities that may help include meditating, coloring, journaling, listening to music, learning an instrument, and doing yoga.

Surround Yourself with Positive People

Who you surround yourself with is essential, as it affects who you become. Studies show that social skills can protect adolescents from eating disorders and relapse. However, they can also present a danger [1].

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It’s understandable that you may find yourself falling in with people only to discover later that they may not be the best company. Surrounding yourself with positive people is not necessarily shutting everyone out, but listening to your inner voice as you let them in.

Be aware of how those surrounding you are impacting your thoughts and behaviors. If you find yourself feeling insecure, unworthy, or pressured to be something you’re not, your body and mind likely will react to this, whether by physically feeling uncomfortable or feeling a desire to revert to old behaviors.

When you get these feelings, listen to them, as they are showing you that these might not be the best people for you to surround yourself.

If you’re with friends and the conversation turns to weight, food, calories, or body shape, this should be an immediate red flag, mainly if your friends know that you struggle in those areas. Speaking about those topics shows a disregard for your struggle and your health.

At that moment, you need to react in a way that protects you, whether by asking your friends to talk about something else or removing yourself from the situation.

Know Your Limits

As a teen, there are so many external factors running your life, and it’s difficult to feel like you have control. Try to be aware of your limits.

Woman with Binge eating disorder in the rain

The more stress you put yourself under, the more likely you are to revert to unhealthy coping mechanisms. If you feel as if there is too much on your plate or you are overwhelmed by the stress of it all, let your parents know and talk to them about what needs to be prioritized and what can go.

Know Where to Go

Keep a list, whether in your mind, phone, or wallet, of those you can go to when you’re having a difficult time.  When you’re maintaining recovery, reaching out during weak moments is an act of courage.

Image of Margot Rittenhouse.About the Author: Margot Rittenhouse 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 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.


[1]: Uzunian, L. G., Vitalle, M. S. S. (2015). Social skills: a factor of protection against eating disorders in adolscents. Ciência & Saúde Coletiva, 20:11, 3495-3508.

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.

Published on December 23, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on December 23, 2017.
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