Several eating disorders share binge and restriction symptoms and appear to be a food-related problem. However, eating disorders have underlying emotional issues manifested through behaviors. Treating an eating disorder is more than learning self-control around food; it also involves managing the emotions and triggers associated with the symptoms.
For optimal recovery, treatment for eating disorders should be comprehensive using evidence-based therapy. One common approach is using Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) which encourages change, but also promotes acceptance. At Selah House, we use DBT to help teach clients how to accept negative thoughts and feelings and learn healthier ways of coping with emotional triggers that contribute to their disorder. DBT emphasizes the practice of mindfulness and other relaxation techniques. The integration of mindfulness teaches someone suffering from an eating disorder how to experience their thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations at the moment without judgment. The use of mindfulness in eating disorder recovery has been shown to reduce stress, reduce anxiety, reduce depression, improve sleep and much more.
What are mindfulness techniques?
Mindfulness techniques can benefit those suffering from an eating disorder through:
- Mindful Eating: Practicing mindful eating can help someone reflect on what they are feeling or experiencing by making them aware of their thoughts, emotions, feelings, and reactions.
- Reduce Stress and Anxiety: Those suffering from an eating disorder often use food to cope with stress and anxiety. Mindfulness can help them learn how to deal with outside stressors that can trigger eating disorder behaviors and help them to process their emotions.
- Making Peace with Food and Body: Several therapeutic techniques involve mindfulness to help someone accept their feelings and body. Over a period of time, they learn to experience and accept emotions without judgment.
Mindfulness techniques include meditation, yoga, tai chi, relaxation techniques, and prayer.
How does Selah House incorporate mindfulness?
The yoga program at Selah House provides a safe, non-competitive space for clients to practice mindful movement. Focusing on strengthening mental, emotional, and physical health allows clients to develop a self-awareness beyond their physical being. Our yoga program has been successful in helping to reduce anxiety, practice mindful breathing that can be used anytime, and learn to be still and relax mind and body. We often have clients begin yoga at Selah and struggle to stay focused, stay present, balance, or even stay still. With practice, they improve all these things and look forward to yoga as a peaceful time of self-care.
In addition to yoga, we also promote relaxation time at Selah House. This intentional time of rest is created to help clients relieve stress, learn to manage and process emotions, and learn to spend time in activities other than eating disorder behaviors. Our campus is intentionally designed to promote physical, emotional, and mental rest for clients in a healing environment that includes wooded areas, pastures, ponds, and gardens. We also provide opportunities to develop healthy relationships through games, group meals, movie nights, and other activities. Healing from an eating disorder is enhanced by relaxation in a safe and welcoming environment.
Those suffering from an eating disorder inadvertently use food as a coping mechanism to escape from uncomfortable feelings. Evidence-based therapy that incorporates the practice of mindfulness can help them reconnect as they learn how to accept the emotions they are feeling.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.