Posts Tagged ‘Anxiety’

How to Navigate Political Stress In and Out of Treatment

An American flag hanging outside a home

We’ve watched the polls and scrolled the headlines. We’ve heard the chatter and seen the ads. With our collective breath held, we’ve finally made it to Election Day. The 2020 presidential campaign may be behind us now, but left to linger are intense feelings surrounding the current sociopolitical climate.

No matter how we voted this year, we are sure to process feelings related to this divisive election for a long time to come. Highly politicized issues seem infinite. From the pandemic to race relations and natural disasters to the economy, we continue to witness and live out such issues in our daily lives. For many, the issues are inextricably entwined with our mental and physical health; for some, they’re linked to our very sense of self. Many people carry these intersecting parts of themselves into their relationships, including, more and more, with their healthcare providers.

Below, we’ll cover tips for managing election stress, as well as advice for mitigating political tension that may emerge in a healthcare setting.

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Body Checking and Body Avoidance

A person checks appearance in the mirror

Eating disorders are often tied to a preoccupation with shape and weight. This preoccupation commonly manifests itself in distorted thoughts and beliefs, as well as in unusual behaviors around food and eating. Rigid food rules, denying hunger, hiding or stockpiling food, and eating in secret are among the key behavioral signs that may indicate the presence of an eating disorder.

Less-discussed behavioral signs are body checking and body avoidance. While these behaviors are not unique to eating disorders—and not experienced by everyone with an eating disorder—they are common in people with these illnesses. Checking involves the repeated checking of one’s shape or weight, and the other involves the complete avoidance of that behavior.

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Demystifying Eating Disorder Therapy

A therapist and client

CBT, CBT-E, DBT… Have you ever wondered what all those letters stand for and why they are so often talked about at The Emily Program and by other eating disorder professionals? If so, this is the post for you. Let’s dissect these terms, help you understand them, and explain why they are important to the work clients and clinicians do every day.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

“By correcting erroneous beliefs we can lower excessive reactions.” – Aaron Beck, M.D.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was developed by Dr. Aaron Beck in the 1960s. His work focused on how the conscious mind plays a role in how people interact with the world around them. Prior to his work, most therapeutic models focused on the unconscious mind—concepts like impulses, analyzing unconscious thoughts, conditioning, and “uncontrollable thoughts.” Dr. Beck changed mental health by introducing the belief that our thoughts are fundamental to how we interpret our experiences and consequently behave or respond. Dr. Beck and many other researchers have discovered that by identifying, monitoring, and effectively changing our thoughts, we can change or alter our maladaptive perceptions, leading to positive behavioral change.

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Practicing Mindfulness in Life and Eating

A woman practicing meditation

Most mornings before I get up, I make a point of listening to a guided mindfulness-meditation tape (1). Each time I repeatedly try to focus on my breath as instructed, following it as it flows in and out of my body. Sometimes I can keep my focus on my breathing for several breaths but not much longer; then my mind wanders off…. to the day ahead, the night before, somewhere, anywhere but where I am, right there, in that moment with my body and with my breath.

Why, you might ask, repeatedly go through something I find so difficult to do?

Because I have seen the positive differences it has made in my life. Being able to pay closer attention to whatever I am working on. Being better at really listening and hearing what others are saying. Being less automatic in my responses and being more fully present to what is happening as it is happening. I am not much more than a novice at this, but I have learned how mindfulness can be helpful in life in general and more specifically in the areas of food and eating.

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Coping with Triggers in Eating Disorder Recovery

A woman reading a book

To those in eating disorder recovery, it can often feel like triggers are all around. It seems they can’t be escaped and they can’t be ignored—they come, unasked and unannounced, in the sounds and sights of everyday life.

You overhear one in the mall dressing room: “You look great – have you lost weight?” You see another on your coworker’s plate, a conspicuously small serving of the company lunch. You find yet another on your favorite restaurant menu, calorie counts in bold black font on every page.

For many, triggers are even louder and more glaring during the holidays. They may come in the form of a family get-together, where a difficult relative sidles up alongside you, or a fear food is passed around the dinner table. They may come when Grandma prepares your favorite dish differently this year, or your schedule is thrown off by holiday travel. Triggers can turn the most “wonderful” time of the year into the most overwhelming.

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Meditation Techniques and Apps to Try

Rock stack

Meditation is the process of relaxing your body and training your mind to stay in the present moment. In short, mediation is the process of soothing your mind and body. While the most common association with meditation is someone sitting cross-legged on the floor and breathing with their eyes closed, meditation comes in a variety of forms.

Types of Meditation

Breath awareness

Breath awareness is the most common meditative practice. This practice encourages awareness of breath and mindfulness—the only guideline is to focus on your breath. To do this practice, start by getting comfortable. You may be sitting in a chair, sitting cross-legged, or lying down. The goal is to be in a position that you can stay in for at least five minutes with little discomfort. Once you are comfortable, close your eyes and began breathing in and out through your nose. Focus on your breath. You may notice your thoughts start to wander to to-do lists, stressors, or daily events. If this happens, simply redirect your attention back to your breath. If may be helpful to focus on your breath by repeating the words “in and out” as you breathe or to pay attention to how the air feels coming in and out of your body.

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