Help for those Struggling with Eating Disorders During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our society in many ways.  For one group of people, those who suffer from eating disorders, the effects of COVID-19 can be extremely difficult to manage.   This time of quarantine and social distancing has caused huge disruptions in our daily lives.  Those suffering from various eating disorders are at a high risk for relapsing and spiraling downward because stress and anxiety due to the uncertainty and stressors of this pandemic.  All of this disruption and stress is a trigger for those with eating disorders.

Eating disorders are generally characterized by obsessively focusing on weight, body shape, and food.  During this time, many people have become focused on obtaining and finding food to eat at home.  This focus on food can be a huge trigger for those with eating disorders.  Those who suffer from undereating may begin to make the difficulty of finding certain foods an excuse for not eating enough.  Those who suffer from overeating may begin to hoard food during this uncertain time and use that as an excuse for binging.  Loneliness and depression can also trigger eating disorders.  As many people have been forced to stay home and socially distance, these feelings of isolation can cause those with eating disorders to struggle.

How can those affected by eating disorders manage these struggles and emotions during this COVID-19 pandemic?  The therapists at Water’s Edge Counseling want you to know that there is help and hope if you are struggling with an eating disorder or eating related issues during this time.  Here are some tips to help you during this time:

  1. Create and stick to a schedule for eating meals and snacks. Because of the uncertainty and anxiety related to the pandemic, it will be helpful to make an eating schedule.  Plan out what times each day you will eat your meals and snacks.  You will also want to plan nutritious and healthy foods for these times.  Having a plan will help you avoid binging and eating unhealthy foods.  Share your schedule with your support system so that they can help encourage you to stick to your plan.
  2. Get adequate sleep. Getting adequate sleep is important for reducing anxiety and for keeping your body regulated.  When our bodies are tired, we tend to pump more sugar and caffeine into our bodies.  Sleep deprivation also increases anxiety, which can trigger eating disorders.
  3. Make time for hobbies and activities that help you relieve stress. Making time for activities that you enjoy each day will help you to relieve stress and take your focus off of food and eating. Activities such as reading, exercising, painting and journaling are all good stress relieving activities. Scheduling them into your day will help ensure that you make time for this stress-relief.
  4. Limit time on social media. Although social media is a great way to stay connected with others, it is also a documented source of anxiety and stress for many people. It is a place where we can easily get sucked into comparing our physical and emotional beings with others. It is also a place of information overload, which fuels anxiety. Setting boundaries on how much time you spend on social media will help to reduce your overall anxiety, helping to improve your eating struggles.
  5. Check in regularly with your support system. Having regular check-in times with your support system is vital for helping you through this time. Be open with the people in your life that you trust, and share your struggles and emotions with them. Having an outlet to share your feelings will help your overall mental state and give your struggles less power over you.

If you continue to struggle with an eating disorder during this time, and are looking for additional support, please reach out to us at Water’s Edge Counseling.  Our therapists have helped many clients work through their eating disorders, helping to greatly improve their day to day lives.  We would love to help you, too.  Give us a call at 912-319-5552. 

We are here to help you!