Home » How to stay motivated in eating disorder recovery
It’s normal for motivation to ebb and flow during eating disorder recovery. As clinicians, we expect it and factor it in to our treatment plan. And it makes sense – recovery is an exhausting process!
That being said, the ability to maintain a high level of motivation has been shown to improve the rate of success in eating disorder treatment.1 Similarly, dips in motivation are thought to be a major contributor to the high rates of treatment drop out and relapse.2
So what can you do to maximise your motivation levels to keep making progress in your recovery? In this article, we’ll give you four practical tips that you can implement to stay motivated on your journey.
It can be tempting to think of all the things that your eating disorder is holding you back from and feel angry or resentful. Try channelling these powerful emotions into motivation instead!
It’s exactly what it sounds like!
Look into the future and visualise what an entire day could look like when you are free form your eating disorder. What does the future might look, sound, smell, feel and taste like? What type of thoughts will you have? What emotions might you experience? What activities might you take part in?
Give as much detail as possible and try to see it in your mind’s eye. Visualising your goals in this way has been shown to help you to achieve them by increasing effort and commitment!3
In addition to looking into the future, it can be helpful to reflect on the past to boost motivation.
This time, the journaling practice will dive deep into your worst eating disorder day.
It’s up to you to decide the parameters of what made a specific day the worst. Once you choose one, write about what happened in as much detail as you can but without judgement. What were you thinking? How did you feel? What behaviours did you engage in? How did this affect you? How did it affect those around you?
Rereading this entry can also act as a really great way to reflect back on how far you’ve come in your recovery. Feeling stuck or stagnant is common (and normal!), so reminding yourself of the progress you’ve already made can be a motivating force on your journey.
Every tiny step forward is progress. Celebrate these wins and keep track of them! Note down what your win was and what helped you to achieve it. Not only will this act as another reminder of how far you’ve come, but it will form a record of tried-and-tested strategies on days when things feel hopeless.
No success too small to make a note of!
And don’t be too hard on yourself with any perceived “set backs”. Relapses are part of the process and are an opportunity for learning, reflection and growth. Additionally, motivation has been shown to be higher amongst people with eating disorders who are able to show themselves greater self-compassion.4 So show yourself a little kindness!
Creating an iron-clad network of supportive and non-judgemental people has been found by research to be a crucial component of maintaining motivation for recovery.2,4
Create a list of people or services who you can reach out to on the toughest of days. This might include:
It can also be helpful for you to guide your friends and family on how best to support you. Maybe you need someone to check in around meal times, or send an encouraging text first thing in the morning. Don’t be afraid to let people know! You might be surprised how willing your loved ones are to support you.
We’re on your side and we’re here to help. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about our services.
Karli Battaglia MDiet, APD
EHL Team x
Embody Health London champions food freedom, positive body image, mental health and emotional wellbeing through a uniquely blended scientific and holistic approach. The EHL team specialises in treating chronic dieting and eating disorders by coaching clients to build confidence and reduce anxiety around their eating habits and food choices.
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