Accumulating positive emotions and building a life worth living

One of my biggest fears during recovery was what will happen when I no longer have an eating disorder? Who will I be? What if I can’t handle the expectations? What will happen when I reach a healthy weight? What if nothing changes and I’ll be mentally still stuck in the eating disorder but look physically healthy? How do I create a life worth living? These may or may not be some questions that could be going through your head.

When you begin really trying in recovery and fighting against the eating disorder you may sometimes feel worse or more depressed than in the depths of your eating disorder or find you experience more mood swings. You are having to let go off and give up something that has been central to your life for some time and may have been a coping mechanism for emotions or events in life. In a way you have to rewire your brain to find healthy coping mechanisms and change your way off thinking. Sometimes you may feel torn between relapse and recovery and feel tempted to go back to anorexic or bulimic behaviours. What has helped me is to set goals for the future which I want to achieve and think about how I can create a life that is worth living. Think about how your eating disorder or addiction or whatever it may be you are struggling with right now is holding you back in life.

ACCUMULATING POSITIVE EMOTIONS

In the short term you can increase the amount of pleasant things that are possible for you to do right now. For example Painting, going on a day trip, buying a coffee, engaging in hobbies e.t.c If there is a pleasant event you previously enjoyed but cannot participate in at the moment think about what you could replace it with. For example I gave up running for a few months in order to regain weight, health and a better relationship with exercise. This was hard to do but what helped was giving myself other activities to look forward to that were beneficial to my recovery such as yoga or art.Be mindful of your positive experiences and refocus your mind to what is happening in the moment when your mind wanders off to negative thoughts or urges.

In the long term you can make changes to your life so that positive events will happen more often in the future. For example I made a change by gaining weight and stopping binging and purging in order to be able to increase the amount of positive events in my life and to be able to run again. By doing this you are building a life worth living.

1)STOP AVOIDING

-Start today. Its so easy to say “ill start tomorrow”.Start today by thinking about what you need to do to build the life you want. If you are struggling then seek help or assistance!

2)WHAT DO YOU VALUE?

For example:

-Being physically healthy, good relationships with others,Working

3)IDENTIFY THE VALUE YOU WANT TO WORK ON

Ask yourself what do you want to prioritise in life right now?What is really important to you?

4)IDENTIFY A FEW GOALS THAT RELATE TO THE VALUE YOU WANT TO WORK ON

For example one of my values is to be physically healthy and the goals related to this value are running a half marathon (I actually need to start training ha and doing a nursing degree. These are the goals I can work towards to make this value a part of my life.

5)CHOOSE A GOAL TO WORK ON

Select a goal to start working on NOW. There is no reason why you can’t work on more than one goal at once and that is often required in life. Just be carefully not to spread your self to thinly by taking on too much at once.

6)HOW WILL I REACH MY GOAL?

Identify the steps you need to take to reach your goal. For example if your goal was to recover from bulimia you may

-Seek professional help and create a care plan/action plan for your recovery

-Talk to friends and and family

-Educate yourself so you have greater insight, awareness and understanding

7)START NOW BY TAKING ONE STEP

For example make a plan for tomorrow of meals and snacks you will have and distraction techniques you will implement to reduce the risk of a binge/purge.

You may have worries or doubts within you. Be mindful of these. Some worries may be “am I worthy of positive experiences?” “what if I can’t do it?”.Address you worries and think about how you can move past them. Can you talk to a friend? What can you do to lessen your anxiety?

To wrap up this post I would like to say that I know goal setting is not for every one. Some people (particularly perfectionists!) may feel too pressured to meet their goal or be too hard on themselves.But its something which works for me so I guess its a very individual thing. I just think we are all responsible for finding our own recovery motivation. When you lose motivation it is easier for eating disorder behaviours to creep in.One of my favourite quotes is “They say motivation doesn’t last, well neither does bathing that is why they recommend it daily”

Also goals don’t have to be huge or monumental. They can be something as simple as meeting a friend once a week or doing a random act of kindness daily. To accumulate positive emotions in the short term I will try and do one positive event daily.Some days this can be  something as simple as singing around the house. Other days it may be travelling or going on holiday.

PLEASANT EVENTS IDEAS:

  • Doodling
  • Going on holiday
  • watching a film
  • getting a hair cut
  • Having a day with nothing to do
  • Spontaneous train journey
  • Taking a nap
  • Going to yoga
  • Cooking a new meal
  • Wearing shocking/original/different clothes
  • Getting a tattoo
  • Volunteering
  • Random act of kindness
  • Going to a party
  • Going camping
  • Lying in the sun
  • Gardenning
  • Learning a new skill
  • Tell someone you love them
  • Do your makeup
  • Fight for a cause
  • Soak in the bath
  • Go to the library
  • Browse through shops
  • Play a board game
  • Surprise someone
  • Call a friend
  • Compose music
  • Buy a book/magazine
  • redecorate your room
  • Look at photos from good times
  • Photography
  • Dancing
  • Playing loud, upbeat music
  • Running
  • Try a new sport
  • Join a club or society
  • Meditate
  • Sleep in or vice versa wake up early
  • Go sightseeing
  • Laughing
  • Going out in nature
  • Treating someone to a meal out
  • Taking a dog on a walk
  • Playing an instrument
  • Fixing something which is broken
  • Finding a good bargain
  • Eating
  • Surf the internet
  • Dye your hair a wild colour
  • Start a Blog
  • Get photos printed and stick them on your wall
  • Make a motivational board
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