Written by Emily Costa, Blog Manager at Project HEAL
As most of us know, recovery is a full time job. There are no vacations, days off or breaks. And then along with recovery comes school, work, internships and plenty of other responsibilities life throws at us. How do we do it all!?
I myself am returning to school after taking a semester off to go to treatment. As the end of August approaches, I grow increasingly nervous AND excited to be back in school. But I am here to not only tell myself that it’s going to be okay, but I’m here to tell you that we are going to kill it this year. I have made up the Recovering Students Guide to School!! Below are 15 simple rules to follow to balance recovery and college!
1. Build A Support System
It’s extremely important to have a solid support system in place while in recovery. In order to stay happy and healthy you have to surround yourself with supportive people. The ones who want to see you happy and healthy are the ones worth keeping around!
2. Trust Your Treatment Team
As you get busy with school life, don’t forget to take time aside to focus on recovery. Your treatment team is there to help you adjust and get through any road bumps along the way. Always follow their advice and plans to keep you on track!
3. Know Your Triggers
It can become really easy to return to old behaviors when triggered. It’s important to have game plans on how to tackle these triggering times such as finals week or holiday breaks! Talk to your family, friends or treatment team to come up with a way to get through these tougher times.
4. Prioritize Emotional Health
Don’t get caught up in your social life or getting good grades that it leads you to forgetting about how important your overall health is. In recovery we learn that taking care of ourselves both physically and emotionally are equally important. Take time to reflect on how you are really feeling.
5. Free Your ED Identity
Always take pride in the fact you are learning to live in freedom from your eating disorder. Remember that you are simply you – a strong, resilient and determined person and you don’t need your eating disorder. You are more than an illness.
6. Reach Out
It can be really hard to do this, but when you are struggling or simply feeling down its important to reach out to friends, loved ones or your treatment team for extra support. Remember, you are never alone in this process.
7. Be Honest
You’ve heard it time and time again but being honest is truly the key to recovery. Having a hard day? Had a slip up? Or thinking about acting out on a behavior? Tell someone! Although this is a difficult step to take, owning up to our actions or thoughts helps us a lot in the long run.
8. Take A Breath
School can get stressful! If you feel overwhelmed or stressed out during class don’t hesitate to get up to step outside to take a deep breath. Try to do a mindful breathing exercise to calm any anxiety or stress.
9. Remember You Are Capable of Being Healthy
Take a moment to reflect on you progress. YOU have been doing the work you need to tackle to get better. Remind yourself you are worthy of recovery and capable of coping healthily.
10. Get Involved
You might find yourself with a lot of free time now that you are gaining freedom from your eating disorder. Why not fill your free time by joining a new club. Or hey, why not look into starting a Project HEAL chapter on your campus?! There are plenty of students just like you rocking recovery.
11. Remember You Are More Than Grades
It is really easy to get caught up in school and grades. It’s always really important to remember that you are more than grades. You don’t need the validation of an A to know you are working hard! Keep doing your best and be proud of yourself everyday
12. Start a Morning Ritual
One of the most important practices I learned in treatment was dedicating 15 minutes to myself every morning to create my very own centering morning ritual. Mine consists of meditating, journaling whatever pops into my head and doing a gratitude list. As silly as it is, saying you’re grateful for coffee and your pets can kick off a really great day.
13. Keep an Eye on Partying
Sometimes in recovery it can become easy to jump from one coping mechanism to another. Make sure your intentions to party comes from wanting to have fun with friends and not a new way to deal with emotions. As Demi Lovato says “If you’re spending your entire early 20’s chasing the next party, what are you running away from? That’s not a badass. What’s a badass is when you can sit through your problems and feel emotions when you don’t want to have them.”
Sometimes things happen and we fall into bad habits again and need help. Don’t forget that recovery is a far from perfect process and its okay to take time for yourself. Whether its taking a week off, or taking the semester off – remember it’s okay to take care of you. Health comes first. School can wait, your recovery cant.
15. HAVE FUN!
The most important thing to do regardless if you are in school or not is have fun! Enjoy everything life has to offer you.
Have a great semester and remember, you are worth recovery!