By Julianna Hindemith, Silver Linings volunteer

Practicing self-care can be one of the most difficult aspects of the recovery process. We all get busy with our various obligations, and taking some time for ourselves can tend to take a back seat. However, avoiding “me time” has no benefit. Self-care is crucial to our overall functioning because it’s a way of loving ourselves. When you take care of yourself physically, you are also nurturing yourself emotionally. In my experience, self-care is one of the most crucial practices for healing from an eating disorder.

One of the ways that I like to practice self-care is through yoga. I love yoga because it allows me to focus on my body and mind in a non-judgemental, loving way. Through each delicate pose I find outer and inner balance. I’m not thinking about my failures or successes. I’m not thinking about my obligations or the size of my thighs. I feel strong and open to the positive energy that I am breathing in. I am calm and feel grateful for my body. 

Figuring out what self-care routine works best for you can be somewhat challenging. Here are four tips to consider to help you on this path:

1. Self-reflect. What is your favourite hobby? How do you feel most at ease? Is it watching your favourite movie? Reading a book? Maybe it is having a good conversation with your favorite person over the phone or in person? I find that whatever first comes to mind is the easiest and often the best option. Start from there and it will grow. There is no right or wrong approach.

2. Let go of perfectionism. Self-care isn’t about doing it right. In fact, letting it not go as planned can be a form of self-care. Breathe in and just do what makes you calm in the moment. I often light a candle and lay down on the couch. Doing nothing at all can still be doing something good for yourself.

3. Make a list of what helps. I write everything down because I have learned that ideas shouldn’t live only in your head. Writing things down is a great “me time” practice and can be very calming too.

4. Accept your unique path of recovery. I know that I sometimes put too much  pressure on myself to have a “quality night.” Self-care can involve letting go of the rules and choosing instead to allow yourself to go with the flow. Trust that your journey is moving forward even if sometimes it doesn't feel that way.

A self-care ritual(s) doesn’t need to be complicated or costly and shouldn't feel mandatory. It only needs to work for you. It can be as simple as taking some deep breaths, listening to music, running a bath or making a cup of tea. Choose to make self-care a regular part of your life. You are worth it!