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A Tip for Managing Body Image Distress

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

When you're in recovery from an eating disorder, you're going to struggle with your body image sometimes. It's just part of it.

What's important for your recovery is not that you avoid bad body feelings, but how you respond to them when they arise. Body image distress will make you want to fall back on eating disorder behaviors. But these struggling moments are great opportunities to practice regulating your emotions to strengthen your recovery.

If you are experiencing anxiety or ruminating thoughts, it's a sign that your stress response is activated. And, you can turn it off to feel better. There are many ways to calm your nervous system in times of stress. One is to use the square breathing technique below:

Square Breathing

The square breathing technique is a simple, yet effective, way to calm your nervous system whenever you’re feeling stressed about anything, including your body. All you need to do is:

  1. Inhale slowly for 4 seconds.

  2. Hold the breath in for 4 seconds.

  3. Exhale slowly for 4 seconds.

  4. Rest with the breath out for 4 seconds.

How did that feel for you? Let us know in the comments below.

And please remember, recovery from an eating disorder is a journey, and it's okay to experience setbacks along the way. What's important is that you continue to show yourself kindness, compassion, and understanding even when things get tough. With time and practice, you can learn to build a healthier relationship with your body and food and find freedom from the grips of your eating disorder.

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