It’s no secret that once you finally feed yourself and let yourself rest in recovery, the exhaustion and extreme hunger can be overwhelming. The physical and mental symptoms are enough to keep you on the couch for weeks (and there’s nothing wrong with that if you have the ability to do so, in fact – that’s the best way to ride out recovery.) For most of us though, we realistically can’t just sit on a couch for weeks. We have school or work that we need to attend to keep our lives moving forward. So how can we do both?
Let’s start with school.
First you have to decide, is school right for me and my mental and physical health right now? Can I afford to take some time off to work on myself? Has being in school stopped me from fully recovering in the past? Is school triggering for me right now? It is not wrong or shameful to take the time to take care of yourself. This is your life and you know what you can handle and what is right for you.
Eating and resting in recovery is a full-time job. If you don’t feel as if you’ve been hit by freight train of exhaustion at the beginning, then chances are you’re not really in full recovery. This is why taking time off if you can is a valid choice. Besides, you may not be able to put forth as much effort into school if you’re more focused on recovery – so taking time away could be actually better for your academic career.
If you do want to remain in school while recovering, then you will want to develop a very detailed plan of what you will do this time that is different from how you might have tried to balance school and recovery in the past. For example, when I was in school I planned to go see an on campus mental health professional, be honest with my family and friends, and prioritize recovery. If school got in the way of full recovery I chose my health first. I lightened my coursework, cut out toxic friends, and spent my mental energy fighting for myself. I was sick with my ED for most of my time at school and only had one semester to go when I finally committed to full recovery. I was very close to graduating so I went part time that last semester to be able to accomplish what I needed to for myself and my education.
Having a plan is very important. Being convinced that THIS time you are ultra-committed, and you are really, really tired of your ED will get you only a few weeks into full recovery before the anxiety will start to mount and get the best of you if you don’t have support in place. Without a therapist or counselor to help teach you how to keep approaching and eating food even as the anxiety mounts, you are likely headed to a relapse. So make sure you think honestly about what is best for your life and how to move forward productively.
Okay now let’s talk about work.
Work is a little bit different than school because you are working to make money to support yourself, keep a roof over your head, provide food and necessities for you and your family. Since you can’t stop working, instead I have a few tips for how to handle recovery in the workplace.
- Block out time in your work calendar for meals and snacks, treat these times like priority meetings that you must attend.
- If you have a very physical job or one where you are on your feet all day, consider finding ways that you can be more sedentary. Is there a job you can go for that requires sitting at a desk? Can you work a register instead of walking around a store? Can you hostess instead of waiting tables? Try and find ways in your own workplace that give you more time to rest.
It might ultimately be necessary to find a different job if the one you are currently in is toxic, triggering, or not helping you achieve your personal health goals. This is something only you can be honest with yourself about and decide.
Check out my video on this topic here: