The New Year brings pressure to start fresh and create goals that bring change. The New Year is often a time of reflection, and with that often comes a desire to either change current patterns or start something new entirely. Whether it is traveling to a new destination, saving a specific amount of money, working towards a promotion at work, checking off bucket list adventures, or trying to lose weight; these lofty goals may be more detrimental to your eating disorder recovery than you may think. The majority of New Year resolutions are often centered around weight loss, exercise, dieting, and improving your image however many of these resolutions quickly die within a few weeks or months into the New Year. Setting specific standards, especially when it comes to your weight or body image can potentially create a sense of failure, which can lead to unhealthy feelings of guilt. What if you do not reach your goal weight or fit into a certain size dress by a specific date? These are unhealthy and unrealistic goals can easily trigger a relapse. Resolutions often demand perfectionism, and this is a dangerous trend for those in recovery. Although New Year resolutions are not bad, being mindful of the expectations and goals you set for yourself in the New Year is a huge component of your eating disorder recovery.
Avoid making any resolutions that deal with relapse, weight, or dieting. Setting a goal such as “I will never engage in a binging episode” is an unhealthy resolution because relapse is a realistic setback in your recovery and if you do engage in binging or purging behaviors, then you most likely will feel like a failure. Setting a goal weight or goal clothing size is also a dangerous resolution that should not be practiced if you are in recovery for an eating disorder. A simple rule of thumb is to avoid specific goals, avoid numbers, and avoid checklists. Setting realistic, open-ended goals for your eating disorder recovery is a healthy approach to ring in the New Year. The following are New Year resolutions that can help you succeed in your eating disorder recovery without potentially setting yourself up for failure.
- To love and respect your body, mind, and soul
- To treat yourself with kindness and appreciate all the things your body can do for you.
- Find a new hobby
- To take care of yourself first, before anything or anyone else. That means looking after your health, getting enough sleep, and saying “no” without explaining yourself.
- To stop counting. Calories, steps, failures… enough with the counting.
- To stop listening to your eating disorder’s voice and to start doing at least one thing that truly makes you happy.
- Ask for help when you need it whether it is help from a friend, family member or your therapist.
- Be grateful for the little (and big) things you have in your life. If you have trouble finding things to be thankful for in your life, engage someone you know and trust in an honest conversation.
- Meet new friends who support you and will bring positivity into your life.