The effects of being isolated from others are really understandable worries for everyone, and could be especially challenging if this is something that triggers your eating disorder. Try to keep some structure to your day where possible – things like getting up at regular times and getting dressed can help you feel better, but you may want to consider a more detailed structure with activities you enjoy or will find a positive distraction like the example below.
|Before 08:30||Wake up||Get dressed|
|09:30 - 10:30||Academic Time||Suduko, crossword, Journalling etc.|
|11:00 - 12:00||Creative Time||Drawing, play music etc.|
|13:00 - 14:00||TV Time||Box set episode|
|14:00 - 15:00||Chore Time||Laundry, minimal cleaning|
|15:00 - 15:30||Fresh Air||Garden if you have one, sit by open window|
|16:00 - 17:00||Support Time||Phone helpline|
|17:00 - 18:00||Planned Exercise Time||Yoga video|
|19:00 - 21:00||Social Time||Phone friend/ online book club|
|21:30 - 22:00||Wind Down Time||Listen to music/ watch film|
Think about the early warning signs that things are becoming more difficult for you and let other people know – then you can ask them to check in with you each day to see how you’re doing. Think about organising regular catch-ups with loved ones regardless of how you’re feeling, and make use of safe online spaces such as the Beat support groups. We’ve launched a new group, the Sanctuary, to help you stay in touch with people who may share your concerns, and this is open for the same hours as our Helpline, from 12pm – 8pm weekdays and 4pm – 8pm weekends and bank holidays.
Try to see the goal as to ‘tread water’: take each half day or less at a time, which may feel less overwhelming.
During lockdown, we’ve encouraged people with eating disorders to create a routine and structure to their day. This can still be helpful even while the specific lockdown rules change over the coming weeks, but you may want to look at the potential challenges that might arise week-to-week as lockdown begins to ease. Try to keep focusing on planning manageable chunks of time – just today, or just the next few hours. If you are expected to return to work, you could contact your employer and ask if you could do this as part of a ‘phased return’ so you start one day this week, then two days next week to help cope with the change.
Try not to ‘overload’ yourself with challenges and only commit to one challenge a day or three challenges per week. It’s okay to be nervous about the changes and to need time to adjust to a new way of doing things.
Announcements about different areas of society opening back up can cause worry and this is really understandable. When restaurants and cafes reopen you may feel anxious about eating out again. It’s okay to be worried; this is an area of your recovery that you’ve not necessarily been able to work on over this time.
Try and be kind to yourself, and think through the steps you need to take to get back to eating out again – it’s important not to rush, as if you feel overwhelmed, it may really knock your confidence. You may also have concerns about the coronavirus, so remember you don’t have to start going out for meals as soon as this is allowed if you’re worried about your health, or if anxieties about the eating disorder combined with anxieties around the pandemic don’t feel manageable yet. However, be aware that things like going out to eat could start to become more daunting the longer you leave them, and it could be easy to treat coronavirus concerns as a reason to avoid going out when it may be something you’d find helpful for your recovery.
Perhaps you could talk to a friend or family member and discuss some goals around this. Initially, maybe set some small goals – for example, you could start by ordering food in, so that someone else is preparing your food but you’re still within the comfort of your own home. Meeting someone for a drink might help you to focus on getting used to being ‘out and about’ again. The next step could be arranging a snack out or a picnic with a friend. Try and think through all the steps that would lead you to your end goal and think through making these goals realistic to your recovery plan. Remember to ensure that you follow government guidance on social distancing.