5 Ways I Fight Eating Disorder ‘Recovery Fatigue’


Healing, whether you’re just starting recovery or you’ve been asymptomatic for a while, can be a long and difficult process that leaves you completely exhausted. This is especially true when you’ve been in recovery for a while and you’ve heard the same things over and over again; it can be easy to feel like there is nothing new to learn.

However, over the years, I’ve learned that there is always something new to learn and healing tends to come in fits and bursts. There are periods of intense learning, listening and processing, and sometimes a lull in between. There are times when I am just not ready to listen, and other times when I soak up everything like a sponge and make incredible strides forward.

So what do we do to keep making progress even when we’re in an unreceptive, completely burnt out phase of healing? When nothing seems to be working — no skills, tools, well-meaning advice or therapy? It is during these periods that having recovery “built into” your everyday life is essential. We often have to process the same stories many times before we can fully work through them.

Here are some ways I’ve built recovery and healing into my life:

1. Constantly expose yourself to people who keep self-care and building a meaningful life at the top of their priority lists. That positive, forward moving energy is so important to have, especially when you’re “recovery fatigued.” (Ie. I just can’t be bothered with this anymore!)

2. Make sure to talk to someone you trust on a regular basis, even if you’re feeling great. Whether that’s a therapist, peer mentor or close friend. The process doesn’t stop because you’re asymptomatic or you feel good. Keep exploring, unearthing and processing.

3. Write your insights down. Even if it’s just bullet points on a piece of paper or notes on your phone. Processing can be incredibly complicated work, and leaving it as a jumbled, chaotic soup in your head doesn’t always help. Most likely, it will probably just overwhelm you. Writing things down can help you organize your thoughts and can be a reminder of the important strides you’ve made.

4. Take it one step at a time. During those periods of intense learning, it’s important to slow down and take it one step at a time. You can’t forcibly figure it all out at once and have it all over and done with. The healing process is usually messy and can spill over into your life and interrupt your day. When this happens, take a moment to stop. Stop and acknowledge what’s happening. Bring your full attention to it. Talk about it, write about it, be mindful of it. Only half paying attention to what’s going on can make it more likely to burst into life in a bigger way later on.

5. Rest. Find a few activities that allow you to rest. Recovery involves a lot of very uncomfortable moments (and hours and days), when all you can sometimes do is sit with it. There is no good way of avoiding it. I used to play a simple game on my phone. It didn’t fully engross me for hours, but it allowed me to take a quick break.

Healing takes time and it can be incredibly frustrating, especially when something you’ve already dealt with comes up again. Remember that if you’re struggling, there is something new to learn from it or it might be reminding you of something.

Get your skills ready, rally your supports around you and lean into it!

woman standing on mountain with arms up

This piece was originally published on Body Brave

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Unsplash photo via Aidan Meyer

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