10 tips for coping during the coronavirus crisis

Posted 20/04/2020

Beat Ambassador Summer shares her thoughts on how to cope with eating disorders during this time.

  1. Try to make eating a social occasion (hard in the current climate, but if you’re isolating with flatmates or with family, try and eat with them). I suggest this because not feeling like you have control over what you’re eating is super hard, and it gives you something else to think about when eating (seeing loved ones) and means 100% of the focus isn’t on food.
  2. It might be that eating with who you live with is a source of anxiety. If so, recognise that and act on it. I find eating whilst watching something really gripping (think true crime documentary, podcast) can help instead of eating in a social scenario because again, it takes the focus off food. 
  3. Equally, it’s also important to remember that dividing foods into ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ isn’t particularly healthy thinking and, whilst hard, it’s good to try and remember that foods like pasta are made up of ordinary foodstuffs (wheat, eggs etc.) that humans have been eating for centuries, even millennia, so try not to view them as ‘bad’. 
  4. Be kind to yourself and rest as much as possible, aiming for eight hours sleep a night. Practicing good sleep hygiene is important and means you’ll need to get out of your bedroom, even if it’s just to the living area/kitchen. 
  5. If appointments are cancelled, it’s really hard, because there’s no solution that’s as good as talking to a medical professional. You could keep a journal of how you’re feeling so that, when you do get to eventually speak to a professional, you have a really good representation of how you’ve been the last few days/weeks. If you start having intrusive thoughts that alarm you, always talk to an adult you trust or a mental health service like Mind or Samaritans.
  6. Do remember that just because you can’t get to the gym/go outside for a run, doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. You can do some yoga, or some Pilates, or practice some strength exercises. If you have space, you can work out! Just make sure that if you do decide to exercise in the home, that you fuel your workout with the proper food and nutrients you need. Also try and avoid spending lots of time doing strenuous exercise as this will weaken your immune system further. Instead, try meditating and stretching, or moving for the joy of it, not because you feel like you have to.
  7. If you’re worried about bingeing, keep your mind as busy and distracted as possible from the food in your kitchen. If you can master not giving in to the impulse for an hour, you can master a few hours etc. Take strength from yourself. 
  8. Eating disorders are tough. And they’re often triggered by changes to routine so this scenario is likely to be very hard for you. And that is totally valid. Don’t beat yourself up for this and do what you need to stay safe.
  9. Try, as much as possible, to make a new routine for yourself in these unfamiliar circumstances. Even if it’s just part of the day, like having a bath or nice shower at the end of the day. Distraction is also key: reconnect with hobbies (reading, writing, painting), and foster new ones (learning a new language, learning an instrument, make your way through seminal 1960s cinema). There’s a whole world to explore and it’s yours for the taking.  
  10. Try to distract yourself and remember that, for example, thousands of people eat a variety of brands every day and nothing bad happens to them. This is a period of time that will try you, but you can, and you will, come out stronger! Try and consider how it’s actually going to really build your resilience against your eating disorder – you got this!
Contributed by Summer

If you're worried about coronavirus, you can look at our guidance addressing some of the questions around the impact of the illness on eating disorders. You can also join our new online support group, the Sanctuary, set up to support anyone with an eating disorder who may feel worried and isolated right now.