As we wrap up the year, New Year’s resolutions tend to creep to the forefront of people’s minds. Generally, New Year’s resolutions are centered around weight loss, exercise, dieting, and improving your image. These resolutions often demand a sense of perfectionism, and this is a dangerous trend for individuals in eating disorder recovery. Although New Year’s resolutions are not inherently bad, being mindful of the expectations and goals you set for yourself is a huge component of recovery. Below we are sharing 5 New Year’s resolutions for individuals in recovery.
- Start a gratitude list. When struggling with recovery, it is easy to focus on the negatives and become so fixated on everything that is going wrong that we end up losing sight of all the good that still exists. Break the habit this upcoming year by starting each day or finishing each night with a gratitude list. Try to write down at least one thing you are thankful for in your life. Whether it is having a supportive friend, a pet who gives you unconditional love, a comfy bed to sleep in, sunshine and cool breezes, or a body that lets you move and hug people – use your gratitude list as a reminder that there is so much in your life to keep fighting for.
- Make time each day to list at least one thing you are proud of yourself for. The accomplishments can be as big as going a month without using disordered behaviors, eating a fear food, choosing to seek treatment, and following your meal plan for a week; or as small as getting out of bed, going to a therapy appointment, texting someone supportive when you have an urge to use behaviors, and challenging an eating disorder thought. If you have trouble thinking of things, ask friends and family members you trust to help you out. It can be difficult to feel like you’re progressing in your recovery when you’re struggling, but making a list of positive steps forward and parts of your journey that you’re proud of can act as proof that you are progressing no matter how small your steps are.
- Create new, self-care rituals to replace old, self-destructive ones. If you have a habit of body checking when you get up in the morning, replace it with reading an affirmation. If you struggle with urges to exercise at night before you go to bed, create a ritual where you journal to reflect on your day. If you tend to scroll social media and unconsciously compare yourself, replace it with reading positive quotes, listening to something inspirational, or watching a funny video on YouTube. It may seem silly or unhelpful at the moment, but the more time you spend practicing the new ritual, the less power the old one will have over you.
- Change your environment. Staying in recovery becomes increasingly difficult when you’re surrounded by an unhealthy and triggering environment. Make this year the year you cut out toxic people and influences from your life to create new, positive, and recovery conducive surroundings. Unfriend triggering friends on social media, set boundaries with people who bring you down, and if needed, find a new support group. Instead of waiting for people to support you, use your voice and ask for what you need. Social media can have a positive influence if used properly. Follow accounts that bring good thoughts and inspiring posts. Make a note of the people, places, and activities that make you feel loved and alive, and do your best to incorporate them into your life.
Changing your environment and the people you surround yourself with can feel selfish,
however, when you’re in recovery, it is ok to be selfish. It’s an act of self-care. You deserve to exist in
a space that feels safe for your recovery.
- Allow yourself to make mistakes. The New Year can put a lot of pressure on us to perform perfectly. Oftentimes, we set high standards for ourselves and create expectations that can lead to feelings of shame and inadequacy if we are unable to meet them. The reality is that recovery and life are not perfect. We mess up, take wrong turns, and make poor choices, but that is ok. Making mistakes and being imperfect does not make you a failure as a person or a failure at recovery, it makes you human. In 2022, instead of putting pressure on yourself to do recovery perfectly, give yourself permission to make mistakes and be a human being.
Letting go of perfection is not an excuse to engage in eating disorder behaviors. It’s an acknowledgment that you can make mistakes in recovery, and still be capable of being better. This year, hold yourself accountable. If you do make mistakes and need help getting back on track, do not be afraid to ask for help!