Recovery: What has worked for me Positive coping skills and challenges, by Ashley Polson

Being in recovery can be exciting and challenging at the
same time. Having been in recovery myself for almost eight years now has given
me the opportunity to learn how to take care of myself and learn what works for
me in order to maintain a healthy, stable recovery.

There are many times where we need to look at what skills we have and tweak
them according to what is happening in our lives at any given time. If some
things do not work as good as they used to, coming up with alternatives might
be more helpful. Sometimes that also includes asking for extra support from
friends, family, a therapist, a support group, etc.

Some things that have worked for me have included limiting my exposure to media
such as TV commercials, magazine articles, etc. regarding weight loss or diets
during times I am feeling especially vulnerable. I have also learned to remove
myself from conversations on those types of topics or redirect them so it is
something more healthy and positive. That has also been a good way for me to
learn how to use my voice and be assertive in order to take care of myself.

Using positive self-talk and reframing negative thoughts has also allowed me to
focus on things outside of my body when I am having difficulty with body image.
I try to remind myself that each day my body might be different, clothes might
not fit the same day to day, but that it will not be like that forever and
instead try to practice self-care and do something nice for myself whether it
is something simple like having a bubble bath, going for a walk, or spending
time with a pet and just distracting myself. Also, paying attention to my body
signals in terms of being hungry, emotionally drained, tired, stressed, etc. is
important so I can recognize what is happening for me and take care of myself
in order to minimize the potential downward spiral that often leads to negative

I have learned a lot about clothes during my recovery as
well. Like most, I used to be concerned about size until I started to realize
that every store, every style, etc. is going to differ. Instead of focusing on
a size, I now focus on what actually fits my body and what makes me feel good.
Even if that means trying on hundreds of pairs of jeans and throwing them
across the fitting room out of frustration, I have finally learned it is not my
body that is the problem and is not what needs to change; it is the companies
who make the clothes. They do not accurately reflect every body shape or size.
But how could they when no one person is the same to begin with? Even if I have
to go through my closet every few months and donate clothes that do not fit me
or that I do not wear anymore and have to replace them, I would still rather do
that than try to change my body to fit into things that just aren’t meant to
fit anymore.

As for food, I now look at it in terms of nutrients instead of calories. In
doing that, it has become more of a healthy way for me to nourish myself
instead of focusing on things that do not truly matter. It has also lessened
the level of anxiety I used to feel and has allowed me to be flexible, not
deprive myself of things, and not be fixated on rules surrounding what I eat.
Facing fears around food is still something I struggle with at times. New foods
continue to be somewhat anxiety provoking but also can be really exciting, more
so if I find a new food I enjoy. I like trying a new recipe and proving to
myself that food can be fun and not so scary. It is especially nice when
you  are with someone who is also trying
something new so you can share that experience. 

Overall, learning what works for you in the recovery process is important. What
works for one person might not work for you. Having a list of things you have
found useful or skills you have yet to implement can be helpful when you are
struggling and need some encouragement to get through a difficult time. Also,
never be afraid to reach out for more support if you need it. It will help strengthen
you that  much more.

Ashley Polson is 31 years old from the Okanagan and is passionate about
spreading awareness on eating disorders. She is almost eight years in recovery
after a seven-year struggle. She has been involved via social media in mentoring
others who struggle and enjoys being able to offer support for those seeking

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