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How Self-Care Can Help While in Anorexia Treatment Near You

While working on healing a disordered relationship with food and exercise at anorexia treatment near you, stress levels can start to rise. Without a way to relieve that stress, it can feel difficult to stay on track and follow the treatment plan.

Thankfully, self-care can assist in this process, helping relieve stress and providing many other excellent benefits. See how this simple step can make a big difference while working toward becoming and remaining recovered from anorexia nervosa.

Benefits of Self-Care While in an Anorexia Treatment Center

By putting themselves first and practicing excellent self-care, people can keep stress at bay and improve their ability to cope with everyday life. Once it becomes a habit, self-care can even help in coping with seriously-stressful situations, such as loss of a loved one, which can otherwise increase the risk of relapse.

The benefits of self-care while in an outpatient or residential anorexia treatment center include:


Self-care is an easy way for people to comfort themselves when overburdened by stress. By giving themselves some downtime and doing something they enjoy, they can replenish their energy stores. This readies them for whatever comes next. And it helps increase their ability to weather difficult situations without relying on maladaptive behaviors to cope.


When people put themselves first, they start to develop more self-compassion, allowing them to give themselves grace during difficult times. With that, they can better offer themselves the forgiveness and gentle words that bring comfort and love, for example. Extending themselves gestures of kindness becomes easier as a result, which helps to improve coping abilities and resilience.

Motivation Boost

As self-care improves the compassion people have for themselves, their motivation to heal and become recovered often improves as well. With that motivation, people may feel inspired to replace disordered thoughts and behaviors with healthier alternatives. As their wellness improves, their motivation to remain recovered comes into line, helping prevent relapse.

Stress Relief

Stress can make people feel quite worn out, depleting their physical, mental, and emotional reserves of all energy. Through self-care, it is possible to refill those energy reserves, helping improve coping in the face of stress. The stress relief achieved with self-care can last far beyond that moment and improve resilience in handling stressful events in the future.

With all these benefits, it just makes sense to make self-care a priority while becoming and remaining recovered.

Ways to Practice Excellent Self-Care During Treatment

Due to unique personal preferences and needs, everyone practices self-care a little bit differently. There are many possible options to consider in finding the self-care routines that work best. Here are some ideas to use while at a residential or outpatient anorexia treatment center.

Set Healthy Boundaries

First things first, it is important to set healthy boundaries to avoid overextending oneself on any given day. The boundaries give people an out when situations could prove too difficult to handle in the moment. As people move forward in becoming recovered, they may approach those situations on their terms using the coping tools given in treatment.

To set healthy boundaries with family and other loved ones:

  • Consider past challenges
  • List all personal limits
  • Be direct in sharing all boundaries

People also need to give themselves permission to say, “No,” as needed to maintain their energy and best cope with the stress in their lives.

Follow a Solid Sleep Schedule

Getting enough quality sleep is the ultimate in self-care. Adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night to avoid sleep deprivation. When people do not get enough sleep each day, their overall health and sense of wellbeing declines. They may wake up already feeling drained and without the energy needed for the day’s activities.

Without enough sleep, they may feel irritable, easily distracted, and unable to make good decisions. This can make it difficult to follow the residential anorexia treatment center’s care plan and avoid the urge to rely on maladaptive coping skills.

Unfortunately, people with anorexia nervosa often have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, making it incredibly difficult to get enough hours in each night. They must make sleep a top priority and allow enough time for this self-care routine every night to stay on the path to wellness.

To improve their ability to get enough sleep, they can:

  • Follow a sleep schedule with strict fall asleep and wake up times
  • Create a soothing bedtime ritual using key relaxation methods
  • Skip all naps, especially ones after 1 pm
  • Remove all bright lights from the room, including cellphones and TVs

Only using the bedroom for sleeping can also help make it easier to fall asleep each night and remain slumbering until the next morning.

Increase Daily Water Intake

While working on adjusting disordered eating patterns, people with anorexia nervosa must focus on taking in enough water every day. Without drinking enough water, they may experience several negative effects, including:

  • Feeling constantly thirsty
  • Headaches
  • Cravings
  • Low energy
  • Constipation

If the lack of adequate water intake continues, dehydration may set in, which could prove life-threatening.

To prevent those issues, people can increase their water intake to about 64 ounces a day, including liquid obtained from foods. They do not have to just drink plain water if they do not want to. Instead, they may get their water from coffee, juice, or other beverages that they prefer.

Open Up During Group, Family, and Individual Therapy

Individual, group and family therapy gives people a chance to open up and let out their pent up feelings, which makes it an ideal self-care activity. Many feel better simply setting the information free rather than letting their thoughts and emotions circle inside. Their stress levels decline and problem-solving abilities improve as a result, helping them better cope with the difficulties ahead.

Furthermore, as they share their hopes, dreams, and challenges, they can confirm that their recovery plan aligns with their ideal path and helps remove personal barriers. The people in their social circle and those in their care team can also use that information to help them become and remain recovered.  

Therefore, it is well worth the time and effort it takes to honestly share those innermost thoughts and feelings during therapy. Doing so is a loving act of self-care that provides lasting benefits and assists in becoming recovered from anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders.

Reach Out to Friends and Family

When stressed, reaching out to loved ones for support is an excellent way to provide self-care. With social support, it is easier to work through challenges ahead and process past difficulties with an eye on improvement. Friends and family are great for working out complex problems as they act as a sounding board and provide key insights.

The support people receive when reaching out helps to buffer stressful events and improves resilience. Through this process, their psychological distress decreases, which helps reduce the urge to cope with disordered thought patterns and behaviors. Their motivation to engage in additional self-care behaviors and remain on the path to recovery improves as well, keeping them on track in following their treatment plan.

Use Music to Find Center

No matter the genre, listening to music can help people find the center and reduce their stress levels in record time. By putting on their favorite tunes, people can benefit in amazing ways. Music can help:

  • Boost their mood
  • Increase emotional regulation
  • Reduce stress hormones
  • Ease pain
  • Prevent urges to engage in maladaptive coping methods
  • Improve sleep quality

The benefits start to occur immediately after switching the music on and tuning in for a listen. People can access music almost anywhere on their phones or MP3 players, making it an easily-accessible self-care technique that provides excellent benefits.

Practice Mindfulness Meditation

Just 10 to 15 minutes a day of mindfulness meditation can provide excellent grounding that makes it easier to deal with daily stressors. This restorative practice centers around letting the mind explore its thoughts without judgment or a response. As the mind works hard to process all the information flying through, the individual focuses on simply breathing in and out.

When practiced as a part of a healthy self-care routine, mindfulness meditation can sweep stress away in an instant, restoring energy for whatever lies ahead. This self-care technique works so well because it actively changes brain activity and reduces the mind and body’s response to stress. It can work in the moment to reduce soaring stress levels and also prevent overwhelming responses to stressful situations when practiced daily.

Find Clarity with Journaling

When used on its own or paired with mindfulness meditation, journaling can also help reduce stress and prevent it from reaching overwhelming levels. People can practice this self-care technique anywhere as long as they have a pen and paper. And journaling only takes a couple of minutes out of each day.

By writing out their thoughts and feelings regularly, they can free themselves from the frustrations building up inside. They can leave their fears, concerns, and problems on the paper to deal with another time, freeing their mind for beneficial activities. They can even engage in positive self-talk and practice giving themselves grace through challenging scenarios.

Through this process, stress levels tend to decrease as people carry less on their shoulders while moving through their daily lives. This is especially true for those who use journaling preventively, writing down their thoughts and feelings every day.

Enjoy New Hobbies and Activities

Many times, self-care simply means enjoying the hobbies and activities that people love most. The ideal hobbies and activities to engage in greatly differ from person to person, however, depending on their needs and preferences. In caring for themselves, people might enjoy:

  • Completing art projects
  • Playing video games
  • Participating in sports competitions
  • Reading books, magazines, or blogs
  • Spending time outdoors
  • Relaxing in a warm bath
  • Watching movies and TV shows
  • Writing poetry or short stories
  • Painting their nails
  • Getting a massage
  • Building paper airplanes
  • Driving remote control cars
  • Dancing to music
  • Practicing martial arts

The sky is the limit in finding hobbies and other activities to engage in when stress levels get too high. These activities work on a preventive basis as well, helping relieve low levels of stress day after day.

People do not have to engage in these activities for hours either to reap the rewards. Just a half-hour to an hour a day can have a huge positive impact on mood as their stress levels decrease in response.

When people with anorexia nervosa put self-care first, they can better handle any and all stress that comes their way. They improve their ability to navigate stressful situations without experiencing a return of their disordered thoughts and behaviors.

Although this can prove difficult, it is important to know that professionals at residential and outpatient treatment centers are poised to help. With help from a care team, people can work on identifying the path to recovery and brainstorming self-care techniques to use along the way.

People can call 888-228-1253 at the first sign of anorexia nervosa early symptoms to speak to an admissions specialist about receiving care. Through the intake process, these specialists will set up a convenient time and date to come in and start receiving eating disorder treatment from a qualified team.


Melissa Orshan Spann, PhD, LMHC, RTY 200, is Chief Clinical Officer at Monte Nido, overseeing the clinical operations and programming for over 50 programs across the U.S. Dr. Spann is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and clinical supervisor as well as an accomplished presenter and passionate clinician who has spent her career working in the eating disorder field in higher levels of care. She is a member of the Academy for Eating Disorders and the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals where she serves on the national certification committee, supervision faculty, and is on the board of her local chapter. She received her doctoral degree from Drexel University, master’s degree from the University of Miami, and bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.