Use this recovery exercise to stop a binge. Powerful emotions, some you don't recognize, trigger cravings and push you into eating disorder behaviors. If you can postpone action, even for a moment, and move into an alternative frame of mind, you may be able to waylay those feelings and prevent an eating disorder episode.
This exercise, like any exercise, takes practice before you experience long term benefits. But you will receive short term benefits quickly.
Here's how this recovery exercise works
When you experience any powerful emotion that seems to be interfering with your perspective or your sense of ease in the world be still for a moment. Put your thoughts or repetitive thoughts or recycling thoughts that reinforce your feelings on hold - just for a moment.
This recovery exercise bypasses your emotions and goes straight to your body. Stand or walk paying attention to what you experience in your body. Focus on your body sensations. I do NOT mean how your body looks or what you feel you need to do to change your body in any way. I means, let thoughts go and just pay careful attention to your body sensations.
For example, you may notice something like an electrical vibration in your jaw or arms. You might feel a prickly sensation in your torso or behind your neck or behind your eyes. You might feel heat in your belly or upper legs. You might feel a pounding in your chest or a burning behind your eyes.
Stay focused on this recovery exercise by remaining focused on your body. Don't define these sensations or try to do anything to stop them. Just watch them. Then let them move through your entire body. Watch them move down your arms and down your legs, through your hands and through your feet to the ground.
Recovery exercise benefits
As your physical sensations pour down and through you, allow the earth to absorb them. The earth is always beneath us. It's vast, deep and strong. It's here for you. Through this recovery exercise you give yourself the experience of allowing the earth to soak up your physical sensation. This will ease in your stress burden and make a binge less necessary to block your feelings.
What if it's too late?
It's never too late. Instead of putting focus on your feelings or on your self criticism for feeling or on your demands on yourself to feel differently or to stop feeling all together, try this recovery exercise. If you've gone past feeling and are into your eating disorder behavior, you can still give yourself a moment to do this exercise.
If you are bingeing or about to lean over the toilet or starting to work up a sweat on the treadmill, you still have the opportunity to practice this option.
With practice you have the opportunity to modulate the triggering experience so you don't act out. Then you have an even greater opportunity. That is the opportunity to focus on developing and strengthening yourself in your vulnerable areas so you have fewer triggers. Eventually, with time and work, you won't have any. So eventually, what's next is real eating disorder recovery.
Joanna Poppink, MFT, private practice psychotherapist, Specializing in eating disorders, PTSD and Anxiety recovery.
Author: Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder
E-mail for free telephone consultation.