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Effectively Managing College Stressors While in Eating Disorders Recovery

Chief Marketing Officer Julie Holland’s EverydayHealth blog “The Truth About Eating Disorders,” is temporarily unavailable while it moves to a new location on the EverydayHealth website. In the meantime, Julie’s blogs will be posted here on the Eating Recovery Center blog. Puberty and the transition to college are the two most common times for eating disorders to develop. In our instant gratification-focused, social media-enthused society, individuals recovering from an eating disorder and embarking upon college face a whole new set of stressors. Identifying potential relapse triggers and implementing effective prevention tools is crucial in sustaining your eating disorders recovery. College life and eating disorders don’t have to go hand in hand. In fact, with the help of a support system – friends, family and treatment team – individuals in recovery can stay on the right track as they transition into a collegiate environment. Always remember to keep the lines of communication open and have a focus on the college-bound individual’s wellbeing while staying active in his or her eating disorders recovery. Unplugging from social media All too often, college-aged coeds rely too heavily on their peers’ reactions and comments through social media channels and minimize communication through interpersonal relationships. For someone in recovery from an eating disorder, social media takes on a different tone and many former eating disorders patients choose to disengage from social media all together. “It’s a fantasy life that is really just an image that people are trying to hold themselves to that standard that’s ultimately killing them,” explains Joe Eiben, MA, LPC, a primary clinician at Eating Recovery Center, in an interview with KOAA-TV. ”Facebook is the new fashion magazine on some level. Men and women alike will start to have drops in self-esteem after spending time online looking at pictures of friends, pictures of how they want to look, looking at old pictures of how they may have gained weight.” Leaving high school and moving on to college doesn’t have to derail your recovery process or cause a relapse in eating disordered behaviors. College and eating disordered behaviors don’t   have to be a reality if you keep lessons learned during treatment and your personal values at top of mind. Take your newfound independence in strides For many 18-year-olds who are itching for their independence after years living under their parents’ roofs, making the big move to college is an exciting one. However, if you’re recently leaving eating disorders treatment, you may want to consider a school close to home for the first year or so. Remember, it’s a much easier transition to attend a nearby school for a semester or two than to move several states away and find yourself struggling to maintain eating disorders recovery. Lasting eating disorders recovery Eating disorders recovery is a time-intensive, ongoing process; and it doesn’t just happen overnight. So as you venture to college, don’t forget about your outpatient treatment team and your aftercare plan provided to you prior to leaving treatment. Remember to work on maintaining your relationships with those who played pertinent roles in your recovery: doctors, dieticians and clinicians. These individuals always appreciate progress reports and they’re certainly available to offer support during difficult times as needed. Along with your treatment team, many individuals in recovery find it helpful to stay in touch with those they met and bonded with at the eating disorders treatment center. Having someone who truly understands what you’ve been through can help you make it through the tough days. Many treatment centers have initiated alumni reunions, support groups or other programs and resources for their former patients, making it that much easier to maintain friendships. Whether you’ve been in recovery for years or only weeks, there can be difficult times and trying days. Eating Recovery Center offers the opportunity for individuals to chat confidentially with a member of the Intake Team should you need the support. 

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