You may have noticed a theme to these blog posts: You have to take care of yourself before you can be of any help to others. This lesson is especially important to those of us trying to get, or stay, out of the cycle of binge-eating, dieting, and self-loathing. This lesson is something I learned the hard way. I used to give, give, give to others and demand nothing in return (not even what was mine to demand). I didn’t think I had a right to receive anything from anyone (feelings of low self-worth plagued me). Then one day during a particularly emotional counseling session, my counselor recommended the book, “Your Perfect Right” and it totally changed my life. This book is all about the fact that every human has the right to communicate how s/he feels and to be respected. If you aren’t in the habit of communicating your feelings to others or if you don’t feel respected by others, this book is for you! Taking care of yourself means making sure your feelings are heard, you are respected as a human being, and your needs are attended to (by yourself, if no one else). Too often, we respond to a spiritual or emotional need by overeating. If we can get into the habit of a daily “self-care routine”, we can stave off the emotional, spiritual, and mental starvation that trigger a desire to binge or overeat.
During my internship, I co-facilitated a stress management workshop for students. One of the most useful parts of this workshop, in my opinion, was the four-page list of suggested self-care activities (adapted from “Transforming the Pain: A Workbook on Vicarious Traumatization”). Items on the list are divided into physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and workplace/professional self-care. Here are some examples: Physical self-care (eat regularly–that’s #1 on the whole list!!; get massages; wear clothes you like), Psychological self-care (write in a journal–I’m not the only one who thinks this is helpful; do something at which you are not expert or in charge; notice your inner experience), Emotional self-care (love yourself; allow yourself to cry; stay in contact with important people in your life), Spiritual self-care (make time for reflection; spend time with nature; meditate), and workplace/professional (take a break during the workday; set limits with your colleagues; arrange your workspace so it’s comfortable and comforting).
What will you do today to start your “self-care routine”? See if you can pay attention to each of these five realms of self-care. I believe that the sooner we start caring for ourselves, the less desire we have to overeat and the easier it is to stay out of B.E.D.
Peace, joy, and health.