Recovery and Setbacks

How can I keep feeling positive during lockdown?

The pandemic and lockdown has been an incredibly challenging time. We know that it is important to try to focus on the positives of a situation or event. The very fact you have made it this far and are reading this guidance means you are still reaching out for information and support. That is something to be proud of. Try making a list of things that you’ve achieved or coped with during lockdown. These don’t have to be big. Keep adding to this list and look back at it when you feel low.

How can I continue my recovery during this time?

Everyone’s recovery is individual to them and what helps one person may not help another. It’s therefore important to think about your own recovery and things that you have previously found helpful and supportive, and to try to implement these where possible. It may be that some of these techniques are difficult to do at the moment, but try to adapt them where possible, and think about what other things you could try too. 

One tool that could be helpful to think about creating is a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). This tool aims to help support you in moving forward with recovery and encourage hope around the future. To develop a WRAP, consider writing down points about the following topics: 

  • Things you can do to keep yourself well, including what support you can draw upon, what inspires your recovery, and what needs to be done each day to maintain recovery. 
  • What things may happen that could trigger the eating disorder thoughts and behaviours? What can you do to manage these? What can you do if you’ve had a difficult day? 
  • What are some early warning signs that things are becoming difficult for you again, or increasingly difficult to manage? What can you do if you notice these early warning signs? 
  • How do you feel when things are going well? How would others tell if things weren’t going well? 
  • Who can you contact for immediate support if things are challenging? 

Once you have had a think about these points, it’s important to try to put into practice what you have identified as being helpful if things feel more challenging.

What are the warning signs I might have had a setback during lockdown?

It’s okay and very understandable if you’re finding it hard to manage your eating disorder during such a difficult and strange time. It is very important, though, that you keep talking honestly with your family and friends or treatment team and let them know if you need help. Some things to ask yourself might be:

  • Have you stopped being accountable or sharing your meal plan with someone?
  • Are you exercising more than you were before lockdown?
  • Are you cutting out major food groups or reducing portion sizes?
  • Have you withdrawn from family and friends? Are you being honest with them about how you’re feeling?
  • Do you feel less worthy of treatment because other people are struggling too? Are you finding it hard to reach out for help?
  • Have you started to binge eat during lockdown?
  • Are you bingeing or purging more frequently?
  • Have your fear foods/challenging foods increased or has your list of safe foods decreased over this time?

If any of these warning signs resonate with you or you feel like you are experiencing a setback, recognising this is a really important first step. Sometimes people may feel guilty or ashamed if they experience a setback, or frustrated at themselves and like they are back to the start – it’s important to recognise that this is not the case. It’s likely that you are more aware of things that have helped in the past so can draw upon these. Setbacks can be seen as learning points and can strengthen recovery through identifying things that are still a challenge and learning new ways to be able to manage these.

If you feel you are experiencing a setback, it’s important to reach out and seek support for this. This may be through speaking to those around you and sharing what support would be helpful for you at this time. It could also be helpful to reach out to your treatment team if you are still receiving support, or your GP to gain support from them. The Beat Helpline is also there to support you and to help you think about next steps too.

Remember to be compassionate with yourself if you’re struggling – this is a really difficult time.

Page last updated: 04/06/2020