Stay aware and active
Many people undergo psychotherapy as part of a bulimia nervosa treatment plan, and many of these therapeutic methods help point out the thoughts and situations that may trigger their eating disorder thoughts and behaviors.
Identifying these triggers is important. It’s especially vital to remember them—and when possible, avoid them after coming home. Being surrounded by potentially tempting or negative people or situations can make recovery difficult.
This is why it’s also important to develop and maintain boundaries during bulimia recovery—and to follow them. Let people know what you are or aren’t willing to tolerate, and then stick to your word. You may also want to brush up on any tools you learned in therapy to help you deal with triggers that affect your eating habits, unhelpful thoughts, or behaviors when they do arise.
Find a healing outlet that works
Unfortunately, anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand with bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders. But working on these concurrent conditions can also help keep the urge to binge and purge at bay.
A number of methods can be used to help address anxiety and depression, including:
- Writing in a journal
- Practicing daily meditation or mindfulness
- Going for walks
- Engaging in charity work
- Visiting friends
- Cleaning and organizing
Certain forms of therapy also encourage bulimia patients to participate in activities that are both personally meaningful and in line with their personal values.
Whatever your method is, utilizing it will not only help you feel better but work as a supportive and less destructive channel for any energy that may have been spent on harmful disordered eating behaviors and thoughts.
Build (and maintain) a support system
One of the greatest resources for anyone hoping to maintain eating disorder recovery is a strong support system.
Having people around who can act as a sounding board when you need to vent or be there for you in moments of doubt or weakness is an invaluable asset. It eases the loneliness, diffuses the pain, and reduces the chance of relapse, by keeping you accountable and making it harder to isolate. Eating disorders like bulimia nervosa flourish in the dark, and a strong support system will act as both light and mirror, especially in the maintenance stage.
Your support system should be made up of people you trust, and people you know have your best interest at heart. Try to stay away from people who are overly critical, negative, hurtful, or may encourage unhealthy body image.
Check in with your support system often. These can be family members and friends, your partner, or members of your treatment team. A number of support groups—both online and in-person—have also been created to help people in bulimia recovery avoid focusing on things like weight gain or food intake.
Keep up with therapy
A trusted therapist can also be a valuable part of a support system when in recovery from eating disorder behaviors and is often recommended as part of the treatment process.
Most people who go through formal treatment for bulimia nervosa attend some type of therapy as part of their recovery plan. But that practice doesn’t have to stop when the treatment plan does.
Keeping up with therapy can be a vital way to stay in touch with the inner thoughts that may be causing you trouble, distress, or confusion, especially as you encounter different situations after returning home from a treatment facility.
Formal therapy for eating disorder recovery can be expensive or difficult to secure. Even for people with limited healthcare options, there are numerous ways to find this kind of help.
Self-help programs for eating disorders
A number of self-help programs have been developed to help people in eating disorder recovery—particularly if you're trying to overcome bulimia nervosa. These programs may involve workbooks, online modules, or hybrid forms of therapy that include limited engagement with trained therapists or other people in recovery.
There are also many virtual treatment options that may be helpful for a number of people. Our programs at Within can make this type of care accessible, transportable, and easy to follow, while also putting you in touch with the type of real-world support that can help you in your bulimia recovery.
Keep in mind that seeking this type of help is especially important if you feel close to relapse. Unfortunately, relapses and slip-ups can happen and may feel devastating. However, meeting yourself with grace and compassion during those times is very important. It can help you to better utilize the support you have and be open and motivated to ask for more help if necessary and to rebound from setbacks.
Bulimia recovery may feel challenging, and sometimes seem frustrating or impossible, but the path toward healing has its rewards, no matter how many twists or turns it takes. Speaking with someone who’s trained to help is one of the best ways to make sure that you have what you need to stay on your recovery journey.