How To Keep A Recovery Mindset During Finals Week
The end of the semester is an exciting, but stressful, time of the year for college students. Having winter break an arm's reach away is very freeing, however, it also means that finals are looming overhead.
Maintaining eating disorder recovery during this stressful time can be difficult, however, it is definitely possible! Here are five ways to prioritize eating disorder recovery during finals week:
1. Take frequent breaks.
People who struggle with eating disorders are often perfectionists. As a result, it can be challenging to take time for relaxation and rejuvenation, however, it is crucial to remaining happy and healthy. Take a break for at least five minutes every hour to stand up and stretch to reset your brain. Make sure to leave at least 30 minutes of dedicated time for meals, and make sure to leave at least 15 minutes of dedicated time for snacks.
2. Prepare meals ahead of time.
During finals week, time is usually pretty scarce, especially time for making meals. It can be easy to turn this lack of time into an excuse to restrict, however, that is definitely NOT a recovery focused choice! To make mealtimes easier during finals week, prep freezer or fridge friendly meals the week before so that you just have to heat and serve. Some meal/meal components that freeze well are pasta sauce, stews, and chili!
3. Create a plan with your treatment team.
Creating a plan with your treatment team for stressful situations is crucial for maintaining a recovery mindset. Finals week brings up many deadlines and high-intensity situations, which can cause you to be more vulnerable to triggers that wouldn’t typically affect you as much. Make a plan with your team for ways to cope ahead for these triggers and suggestions of what to do if you are feeling overwhelmed or triggered.
4. Set aside time for doing enjoyable activities.
While free time is scarce during finals week, it’s extremely important to budget some time for enjoyable activities that are not school or work related. Schedule in at least 30 minutes per day of time for a fun or relaxing activity that you like doing. Some of my go-to activities are making art, watching TV, and snuggling with my dogs with a warm cup of hot cocoa. Taking this time for activities that you enjoy helps your brain decompress after a stressful day so that you’ll be less susceptible to triggers.
5. Make a list of resources for yourself, for if you are triggered or experience a crisis.
With the large amount of stress and anxiety that the end of the semester brings, it’s likely that you will be more vulnerable to triggers than you are during other parts of the year. It’s important to make yourself aware of resources that are available so that you can decrease the likelihood of acting on unhealthy behaviors! If you are in a crisis situation, you can text “NEDA” to 741-741 to be connected with a trained crisis counselor. Another resource that is available is the NEDA Helpline, which can be reached at (800) 931-2237. It is also a good idea to ask a trusted friend or family member if they can check in with you throughout this stressful time to ensure you’re remaining recovery focused and if they can be available if you need help in a trigger situation.
While the end of the semester can bring up a lot of stress and triggers, there are many things you can do to reduce your vulnerabilities and make the time more enjoyable. Try these tips to ensure that you maintain your recovery during finals week, and remember that there is an end in sight!
Colleen Werner is a writer, dancer, and future therapist from Long Island, NY. She’s studying Psychology at SUNY Old Westbury and plans on going to graduate school for Mental Health Counseling. She aspires to start an eating disorder treatment program for dancers. Colleen’s experiences in recovery from an eating disorder and anxiety disorder have inspired her to share her story in an effort to help others, end the stigma, and create a sense of community. She is a National Ambassador for Project HEAL, a Campus Editor-at-Large for HuffPost, and a contributor for HerCampus and The Mighty. Colleen’s Instagram, @leenahlovesherself, inspires thousands every day with her posts about authenticity and mental health.