Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Disordered Eating Part 3: Journalling

 Disordered Eating Part 3: Journalling Based on the book "Surviving Disordered Eating"

Journaling is a recovery tool you can use. It is a powerful resource that can help you in your healing journey and beyond. Journaling is nothing more than writing your thoughts and feelings on paper, in a private notebook or journal. Some people write only about events, some write only about feelings, and some write about both. Some people write poetry or make up stories. There is no wrong or right when it comes to journaling. It’s very important to understand that your journal is your journal. What you write in it is for your eyes only. You may write something that you want to share with someone at some time, but that is not the main purpose. The main goal is to write honestly about anything you want without fear of judgment or criticism. Next, you’ll need a good writing utensil. This is very important. You’ve got to find something that, like your journal, invites you to write and makes it a pleasant experience. Journaling is about more than what you say. It’s a physical process as much as an intellectual and emotional one. Your hand moves a pen across a page in a notebook. It needs to feel pleasing to you or you won’t do it. Finding the right writing utensil for you helps make the experience one you’ll enjoy. First thing in the morning, when households are usually quiet, and before the rush of your day gets started, you might find that your brain is able to focus in a more relaxed, open manner as you write about your life. Some people find that incorporating a few minutes of journaling into their morning routine helps them start their days feeling more calm and centered. If you aren’t a morning person, or there is simply no extra time, try journaling at the end of the day. Writing can be a great way to process the events and emotions of the day, now that you have time to focus. If you’re like many people, your day can fly by so quickly sometimes, that it seems all you can do is react, all day long. Taking time to check in with how you feel about what has happened, and how it relates to stress, anxiety, body image, and eating can really open your eyes as to how these things are connected, and what you can do about it. It can become a midday break that opens your eyes and awareness so that, if you need to make adjustments in your day, you can do so. Once you have gathered your materials and found a time and private place to write, how do you get started? First, commit to the following: You will always tell the truth in your journal, no matter how difficult. The truth may be hard to express, at first, but it is crucial if you want to heal. Following are some prompts to get you started. General Topics: Write about what you’ve been doing lately—homework, school, job, family events, things with friends, hobbies, and such. Try to describe the events in detail. Now, write how you feel about the things you’ve been doing—what do you find satisfying? What do you not like? Why? Describe some of the people in your life, in detail: looks, personalities, hobbies, ages, relationship to you, and so forth. Also describe how you feel about these people. Be honest! Remember, no one will read this but you, and if you don’t like having the truth about your feelings lying around after you’ve written them, you can always remove the pages and destroy them. Your journal may help you recognize and remember important things, but if it makes you uncomfortable to have your true thoughts out there in black and white, you can destroy the pages, knowing that doing so won’t destroy the truth of your feelings. Write about important things you remember from different ages in your life. Why are they important to you? What feelings do you associate with these events? You might go back as far as your memory allows, and then work your way up to present. Try one thing for each year of school, and then move onto important experiences of adulthood. Write about romantic relationships, attachments, or crushes you have had. What attracted you to these people? How do you feel about them now? Getting to Know You: Make a list of your favorite things: music, movies, TV, sports, friends, family, places, classes, animals, trips, clothes, stores, artists, and so forth. Pick one or more of the things you listed, and write more about it: a detailed description and your feelings. Make a list of your least favorite things, and describe some of them in more detail. What are some hopes you have for your future? These can be career, relationships, adventure, wild dreams—anything! Why do you hope these things happen? What are some things you will have to do to make one or more of them a reality? Is there a small step you can take toward one or more of them right now? What scares you about these things? How will you overcome your fear, if you want to? Describe yourself as you think your best friend would. What are your strongest qualities that have nothing to do with appearance or looks? How can these qualities help you achieve health and your greatest hopes? Family People don’t get to pick their families, but they are all part of one, for better or worse. Name some of the “better things” about being a part of your family; then name some of the “worse things.” What can you learn from being a part of your family that will make you a stronger person? Who in your family do you feel closest to? Why? Who in your family would you like to feel closer to? Why? Who in your family do you worry about? Why? How has your disordered eating affected your family? How do you feel about that? Describe the role of food in your family. Is it used in celebrations? Is it something not much thought is given to? Or can you recognize some food obsessions in your family members? Are others in your family struggling with food or body image issues? How do you feel about that? Who in your family is the most supportive of your recovery? Why? If no one in your family is supportive, to whom outside of your family can you turn? Some families experience trauma (very upsetting events), or some members of the family do. Things like: death, divorce, addiction issues, abuse, job loss, and the like. If any of these issues have been in your family, or have happened to you, try writing about them, including your feelings. Many times these types of issues are involved in disordered eating. Understanding struggles with your family traumas can help you achieve better emotional and physical health. Disordered Eating and Body Image Topics: Remember back to when your disordered eating habits began. Describe what was going on in your life and how you felt about it. Who knew about what you were doing? What was their reaction? Talk about your disordered eating habits and rituals today. Be specific and detailed. How have they changed since you first began? How do you feel about them now? Describe how you feel about your body. Be honest. How do you feel about how you feel about your body? Again, be honest. List things you like and/or respect about your body, such as, the fact that it keeps oxygen flowing in and out of your cells, 24/7, and you really don’t even have to ask it to do so. What would you like to change about your body image and disordered eating so that you could enjoy life, people, and yourself more? What are you doing to make these changes happen? What are some of your fears? These can be about anything, real or imagined. Talk about exactly what it is you fear about these things. Write a letter to your eating disorder voice. Give it a name. Many people name that voice ED (for eating disorder). Tell ED your real feelings about the things it says to you. Be honest and blunt. Tell ED your hopes and plans regarding recovery and health, and be bold about it. Your Worldview Describe your moral code of ethics. What things do you believe are right, and what things are wrong? Why do you believe this? What and/or who influenced the development of your sense of right and wrong? How well do you live by your own code of ethics? When have you fallen short? When have you stood firm? How did you feel in those situations? What problems or issues in the world today concern you? Write about what you can do to help solve that problem, both in small ways and larger ways, now and in the future. Write a letter to someone saying what you always wanted to say to that person. Don’t have the intention of sending it—just do it to experience what it feels like to say the things you need to say. Maybe you’ll want to share this with your therapist, maybe you’ll want to edit it and send it, or maybe you’ll want to rip it to shreds. The choice will be all yours. If you are new to journaling, you might want to start with some short writing periods, say 10 or 15 minutes. You can write longer if you want.