February 1st – 7th is Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW) and as today is February 1st, this marks the first day of our week of EDAW-related blog posts! Each day, a Faces of Recovery member will share a message of support for those dealing with mental health issues.
As you may know, there is still a great deal of stigma surrounding eating disorders. Unfortunately the belief still exists that individuals suffering from eating disorders are choosing to participate in their self-destructive behaviours. Fortunately, due to campaigns like EDAW, more and more poeople are realizing that eating disorders are mental illnesses that can often have extremely damaging or even life-threatening effects. Talking about these issues is extremely important and so we welcome the opportunity to reach out here by sending messages of support out into the world via our blog.
This year the theme of our messages is Resilience.
Resilience is defined as responding and adapting in the face of adverse situations and circumstances. It is one of the Key Concepts of the Wellness Recovery Action Plan model. It is also an important trait to develop along the path to mental health and wellness. If you don’t feel resilient right now, that’s okay – it’s a skill that can be learned, and experience is often the greatest teacher. Anyone who has had to live through difficult times and has come out alive on the other side has displayed resilience.
There are ways that we can actively work on developing resilience in ourselves. A lot of it involves working on our mindset and outlook in the face of difficult situations. It is important to remember that slips, periods of darkness, or even crises need not be taken just as they are; each adverse event can be viewed as a learning opportunity that we can use to fortify ourselves against tough times in the future. What about that challenging time was so difficult? What coping strategies were useful? What behaviours and thoughts were unhelpful? Reflecting on past experiences is a crucial practice in developing resilience. Using self-talk and other external cues to help remind us to think of the ‘big picture’ and keep things in perspective can also be helpful. A slip is not a backslide, and a whole day or week or month needn’t be thrown out completely due to a bad moment or several bad moments. For more tips on developing resilience, click here.
It’s also important to surround ourselves with people and resources who inspire resilience in us. As a brief exercise, think of someone in your life who has displayed resilience. Try to think of someone you know personally. What about this person’s character helped them get through their challenge(s)? What can we learn from them and aspire to with respect to our own growth and development?
Finally, try to think of a time when you yourself have showed resilience, even if it was just for a short while during a seemingly ‘small’ hardship. Maybe you were able to prevent yourself from engaging in a destructive behaviour even one time or for a short while. Take the time to celebrate the resilience that you showed in that moment. This is no small feat.
This week, allow yourself to meditate on what it means to grow stronger and bounce back in the face of life challenges.
For more stories of resilience in the face of challenges, check out Riverwalk’s short film, Self Destructing to Survive.
For more information on Riverwalk, visit our website.