Three Safe Coping Skills in Eating Disorder Recovery

May 4, 2016 Z Zoccolante

Safe coping skills in eating disorder recovery are so important. Having an eating disorder can feel like walking around in a black hole, lost and in darkness. As we all know, simply stopping the disorder doesn’t happen overnight. In recovery, we go through a process of learning our triggers. Prior to this, we never knew when we’d be triggered and when that neural pathway would fire us down the road of our disordered patterns. In the disorder, we often had zero coping skills for emotions except the eating disorder, so, naturally, it’s the one we chose every time. In our eating disorder recovery we can develop many safe coping skills to assist us in getting, and staying, healthy.

Why We Need Safe Coping Skills in Eating Disorder Recovery

Eating disorder recovery requires safe coping skills. Here are 3 safe coping skills to assist you in getting, and staying, healthy. Take a look.The eating disorder is difficult and so is recovery. Recovery takes persistence because we are unlearning the destructive patterns that the eating disorder ingrained in us. Safe coping skills help us to feel secure in the chaos (Mental Health 101: Developing Coping Strategies). Be patient with your progress. Perfection is not the goal. If we persist, even if we backslide and get back on the path, we can move forward into a happy, healthy life.

What Safe Coping Skills Are Not in Eating Disorder Recovery

I remember when I was inpatient at an eating disorder hospital. In one of the groups we collectively listed 67 reasons why the eating disorder was negative for us. Still, that didn’t scare my addiction. The coping tools that I set up for myself, because we had to, were a list of things I could do to distract myself when I was full of food and wanted to throw it up. The problem was that these never worked. I could do a handful of them and still my body would be frantically drumming on the inside. The safe coping skills below are not distractions, but, rather, honest skills to use now when you feel uncomfortable or emotionally unsteady.

Three Safe Coping Skills in Eating Disorder Recovery

1. Seek Understanding, Not Blame

If the urge to binge, purge, starve or exercise had a voice, what would it say? If we listen to what it says, often our true needs arise. This takes away the blame of us being a horrible, out-of-control person and puts the focus back on understanding our needs in the moments when we want to lash out.

2. See the Picture all the Way Through to the End

When we are triggered, we have tunnel vision for the food, the toilet, or the running path. We have tunnel vision for the immediate future. But what if we followed the entire vision to the end when we would wind up hating ourselves after throwing up? Or following it through to the next day when we woke up and realized we were once again the person we didn't want to be? See the picture to the end. How can you make different choices?

3. Trust the Process

Recovery is not perfect and you don’t have to be (Learning to Trust Yourself When You Live With Mental Illness). You’re not a horrible failure because it got the best of you today. Your past doesn’t have to equal your future. Keep moving forward and remember that a relapse holds an important lesson. If we can learn that lesson, or identify that trigger, then it will no longer hold power over us next time (Ways to Avoid Negative Coping Skills).

Keep moving forward on your recovery road. There is light at the end of the tunnel. There’s light all along the path too, it's just that we sometimes don’t look up to see that it’s been flickering through the canopy of trees all along.

A Video about Seeing the Full Picture When You're Triggered in Eating Disorder Recovery

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APA Reference
Zoccolante, Z. (2016, May 4). Three Safe Coping Skills in Eating Disorder Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 24 from

Author: Z Zoccolante

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