Many of us are struggling to find ways to cope with the stress and uncertainty of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Some people turn to connecting with others online. Some learn new skills or binge watch shows. Others turn to food to find comfort and solace, to assist with anxiety, or just to combat boredom. Social media then adds to this with memes and jokes about gaining weight during the pandemic, as well as normalizing unrealistic body image expectations and body shaming. These can feed anxious thoughts and negative self talk and lead to more feelings of being out of control. These feelings may lead us to find things we can take control of and can lead to unhealthy choices in regards to restrictive eating, over eating, or excessive exercise.
There are ways we can avoid falling into unhealthy coping mechanisms and patterns. We can work to find more positive outlets for frustration by focusing on the choices we are making and being mindful of the impact of those choices. We can also create schedules that give our days structure, being mindful in creating a schedule that allows for breaks, walks and activities. You can also practice mindfulness techniques like journaling, meditation and deep breathing.
If you are finding you are falling into unhealthy patterns with food which may include increased or restrictive eating, binging or purging or increased exercising, you might be struggling with disordered eating behaviors. These can be impacted by thought patterns and anxieties that may feel overwhelming and unmanageable, and you are not alone; roughly 30 million Americans also struggle in this area.
There are positive ways you can get support and assistance; You can reach out to online support groups, learn more coping and anxiety reducing techniques, or utilize virtual visits with local therapists in your area. If you’d like to schedule a session with someone in our office, contact us today.
Erica Metzel, LMFT