It is now two weeks since we were all first asked to make changes to our daily lives because of COVID-19.
Protecting each other through social distancing, self-isolating and avoiding travel has changed everyone's lives hugely. Many people report more anxiety and stress about COVID 19, work, study, family, finances and the future.
The impact is even harder when you have an eating disorder, because eating disorders often involve anxiety, loneliness, and specific routines around meals and food in order to cope. Social support is really important for recovery and may be less available now. Professional support is likely to be changed for a time. Eating disorders have a high risk of physical complications if your recovery is affected. Even in the current crisis, this can require medical or hospital care.
Developing a new daily routine
Last week, we wrote about the importance of keeping up with regular mealtimes and snacks if you are not currently at work or education or are working from home.
This week, we want to encourage you to use these mealtimes as a daily ‘scaffold’ on which you can build in some other non-food related routines between meals.
Making a new routine – your new normal- can help you feel more balanced and less anxious. It will also distract you from eating disorder thoughts by giving your mind other activities to focus on.
A good way of going about this is to:
Get a piece of paper and divide the page into 4 sections: mental, physical, social, spiritual
Brainstorm things you really enjoy or think you would like to spend more time at in each of these four areas. Write them down. Using the My Planner (link) section of this App can help you in this.
Some examples below;
It is really important to make sure that the activities you choose are not going to undermine your health or trigger the eating disorder.
We recommend not including exercise in your "physical" list of focus if you are in active treatment or if a compulsion to exercise is or was a feature of your eating disorder. Focus on sleep and nutrition instead. They will have as big an impact on your wellbeing.
Make time for these activities each day, even for a short time. Many people find that doing ‘creative’ activities before or after mealtimes can reduce anxiety and guilt.
Telehealth (or telemedicine) means having your clinical care and clinical information provided to you via mobile phones, smartphones, computers and tablets. In the era of COVID 19 and social distancing, telehealth is becoming a major way of getting clinical care.
The good news is that there is already some research that suggests that FBT and CBT-E can be adapted for telehealth. It has also been used successfully for other medical conditions, and in countries like Canada and Australia for many years.
Telehealth is fairly new to mental healthcare in Ireland, and this may be the first time you have used it.
Your clinician will talk you though it and decide with you if it is the right thing for your needs. You will be asked to consent. Issues like how to manage weigh-ins, meal coaching, and risk will all be discussed with you.
It is important to get the most out of Telehealth and these tips may help: