Anna thinks about how lockdown affected people with eating disorders and why it’s okay to be wrong.
The effects of the corona virus have caused people around the world to reevaluate how we can protect our physical health, to stay clean and hygienic, and to protect each other from the transmission of viruses. The pandemic has also highlighted another, less obvious area of our lives. Inactivity and food intake. The Quarantine 15 memes frequently visit social media and encourage viewers to start their physical education classes, take on charitable challenges, or spend excessive amounts of money on fitness equipment they have never used before.
Practice is good. Do not get me wrong. This is particularly beneficial when cabin fever is ripe and social distance affects our mental health. However, for those who are already prone to physical insecurity and fear, this new nationwide obsession can be quite harmful. This influence is particularly important for those who are recovering from eating disorders. Eating disorders are based on the fear of getting out of control. It drives the motives for disordered eating and body control strategies such as hunger, exercise obsession, and binge / purge cycles and causes large amounts of guilt, frustration and bad mood, which can then lead to coping behavior continuing in one cycle.
The effects of COVID-19 have changed every corner of society and we have been forced to adapt to a new way of life. This drastic change alone is enough to jeopardize the restoration of eating disorders, as support services have been restricted and individuals have to process feelings, thoughts and behavior under challenging conditions, often on their own. Then there is inevitably the chance and “threat” of weight gain that is HUGE for people with body confidence issues. In the meantime, struggling with difficult thoughts about the body image can be a challenge for everyone, not just those who have been diagnosed with a disorder. The idea that we have to maintain strict physical standards for ourselves and others is unrealistic and unhealthy at all times, but especially during a global pandemic. Trying to address difficult thoughts and feelings about ourselves when you look in the mirror is a challenge for many people. This shows that many of us have a difficult relationship with their bodies, an area we can all work to improve.
Weight gain may occur during this time, and this is indeed completely normal. For those who have had eating disorders or body image problems in the past, it may be unhealthy to go on a lockdown diet and / or put yourself under pressure to tackle a fitness challenge – not just because of the possible ones negative effects on your physical health, but also because it is more important for your mental health. The fear you feel about gaining weight proves that a health kick may not help the problem, but further mitigate and exacerbate it. If you eat normally and gain weight, you need to gain weight. According to set point theory, if you don’t push your body to the limit, your weight will fall within its natural limits. Accepting that these natural boundaries may not be the “sheer” thin that you crave will be difficult, but doing so may make your life a lot calmer.
When we study and work from home, we are forced to be static, to go one step lower and face the prospect of boredom, loneliness and isolation. The physical and psychological effects on those living with body problems and eating disorders vary depending on individual circumstances. The difficult emotions that arise during the pandemic can lead to reliable coping mechanisms such as restriction, flushing, binging. During these times, it is important to turn to any advice that you have received during treatment. If you haven’t received treatment before, contact credible online support like Beat. Remember that eating is strength. I don’t think there is a more important time to gain strength than during a global pandemic. Remember that you are not alone in this. Many people experience similar thoughts and feelings. The key is to recognize them and work towards making things better. Now go and eat the ice cream, I know I’ll do it.
For more information from Student Minds on the Coronavirus outbreak and mental health, click here. You can find more information on dealing with eating disorders here.
Hello, I’m Anna, I’m an editor for the Student Minds blog and I recently graduated. I suffered from an eating disorder during my studies, but I am now passionately interested in raising awareness of eating disorders and volunteering at Beat.