One of the biggest traps I used to (and occasionally still do) fall into with my eating disorder was getting stuck in my head. What do I mean by that?
Well, it’s sort of like when something not-so-great happens to you, or is brought up, and it triggers a downward-spiral pattern of thinking that leads you nowhere good. And since cognitive behavioral therapy teaches us that thoughts affect feelings, and in turn, affect actions, this kind of head space can lead to a behavioral disaster.
You want an example? Today, my daughter was having a rough day (I can take a couple of guesses why, but it’s probably because she’s an almost-two-year old), and I internalized it. (Which is an irrational, easy trap for parents to fall into. But I digress.) I started thinking, “Maybe she’s acting funny because I didn’t get her up early enough and her sleep is off. Or maybe I’m not doing enough structured activity for her. Or maybe because we haven’t gotten out of the house today because it’s cold outside. I must be a bad parent because I haven’t gotten her outside today. I’m also a bad parent because I don’t have enough money to enroll her in some toddler gym where, on days like this, she could get out and interact with munchkins her age. Yep, I suck!”
Yeah, that sounds productive.
Luckily, I haven’t acted on it, but it led to some pretty crappy feelings. But instead of using an unhealthy behavior, I decided to type. Because typing organizes my thoughts and gets me out of my head.
One of the best things you can do for yourself (if you’re in recovery from addiction or in that awesomely-fun head space) is do something that involves using your hands. OK, get the dirty jokes out of the way. No, but really! Performing such tasks as sewing or building something uses a different part of the brain than circular thinking does. It’s why you see knitting so often at eating disorder treatment centers. It’s an activity that you have to focus on, but it’s repetitive and soothing.
The same goes for painting, and coloring, and embroidering, and typing. You can even integrate this DBT-esque skill into your beauty routine. Painting your nails is a great way to get rid of that negative mind space. Self-care and DBT rolled into one. What’s not to love?
Check out my favorite color line, Sonia Kashuk’s at http://goo.gl/SB1Qy6. My favorite for fall Grey Matter, but to each his own.
What activities do you use that are distracting and soothing?