Thanks to COVID-19, many of us are now working from home. And while some people may love the idea of working on the couch in their PJs, for others (especially for those in eating disorder recovery), working from home can be difficult. Here are five tips for staying in eating disorder recovery while working from home.
Working From Home Can Challenge Eating Disorder Recovery
Working from home can be challenging for those in eating disorder recovery for numerous reasons.
First, it often means the individual spends much or all of their day alone. Without the day-to-day interactions with coworkers and customers, it’s easy to feel isolated and lonely, making some more susceptible to slip into old patterns of ED behaviors. As Lindsay Rogan, an ED recovery coach with OutshiningED, shares in a Healthline article, “Eating disorders thrive on secrecy and isolation. They get stronger when no one knows what you’re up to” .
Another reason working from home can prove challenging for those in eating disorder recovery is the extra level of anxiety and stress many are now experiencing. From taking care of kids and homeschooling to struggling to find a healthy work-life balance, working from home can increase anxiety, which can then trigger ED symptoms in vulnerable individuals .
Finally, the switch to working from home disrupts regular routines and habits, which can be triggering for those in ED recovery. For example, an individual in recovery from an eating disorder may have packed a specific lunch each day or had a habit of eating at a certain time and place.
Working at home means they now have constant access to food in the fridge and pantry and may not have to stick to a set lunchtime, potentially triggering food and eating issues.
5 Tips For Staying in ED Recovery While Working From Home
If you are currently in eating disorder recovery and working from home, here are five tips to keep you on track in recovery.
Establish a Schedule
With the extra pressures and stress working from home during a pandemic can bring, establishing a schedule can be a lifesaver. Consider waking up around the same time each day, starting work at a set time, taking an intentional lunch break, and setting a clear quitting time. If you are taking care of kids or homeschooling while working from home, establishing a schedule for them can also help lower stress levels and reduce the risk of an anxiety-triggered relapse.
Another important way to protect and support your recovery is to stay connected. This might mean scheduling a Zoom or Skype call with a friend or family member several times a week after work. Or it might mean hopping on an online ED support group during your designated lunchtime. The important thing is to find ways each day to reach out to other people, share struggles you might be having, and gain encouragement and support during this time.
Don’t Skip Treatment
Whether you are in a strong place in recovery or are still in the early stages of treatment, working from home can trigger and challenge your progress. This is why it’s crucial to seek/stay in treatment during this time. Many counselors, therapists, and ED programs now offer virtual treatment, so you can get professional help from the safety of your own home. Don’t wait until you’re relapsing or struggling to seek help. Safeguard your recovery by starting treatment now.
Set Up a Recovery-Friendly Work Space
If you are triggered to binge when you spend long bouts of time in the kitchen, it may not be a good idea to work at the kitchen table. Or if you tend to get anxious and lonely after long hours of sitting at a desk in a poorly lit room, consider moving your workspace near a window so you can catch mood-boosting sunlight and see the views outside. Being intentional about your workspace at home can make a huge difference in your day and keep you on the positive track to recovery.
Find Positive Ways to Fill Your Time
Working from home due to COVID-19 most likely means you have more downtime on your hands, especially if you live alone. During these moments of downtime, it may be tempting to dwell on negative thoughts, scroll through social media (which could be triggering), or engage in ED behaviors. The best way to protect yourself from falling into these harmful traps is to find positive, healthy ways to fill your time.
This might be as simple as starting a new book, meditating for 10 minutes in the evening, or taking a walk outside (if appropriate for your level of recovery). It could also be something more involved like picking up a new hobby or taking an online class you’ve always been interested in but never had the time for. The point is to plan ahead, so when downtime comes, you have a positive outlet to turn to.
 Curley, B. (2020, May 6). COVID-19 Sheltering Can Make Things Difficult for Eating Disorders. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/covid-19-sheltering-can-be-difficult-for-people-with-eating-disorders.
 How Anxiety and Habits Contribute to Anorexia Nervosa. Psychiatric Times. https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/how-anxiety-and-habits-contribute-anorexia-nervosa.
About the Author:
Sarah Musick is a freelance writer who specializes in eating disorder awareness and education. After battling with a 4-years long eating disorder, she made it her mission to help others find hope and healing in recovery.
Her work has been featured on numerous eating disorder blogs and websites. When she’s not writing, Sarah is off traveling the world with her husband.
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 September 7, 2020, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on September 7, 2020, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC