Back to School and Recovery

Summer has come to an end, the nights are drawing in, and before we know it, we are all back to school…

This time can be particularly difficult for those struggling with eating behaviours. The sudden change of routine and uncertainty can cause anxiety and influence our eating. However, fear not! There are a few things we can do to help settle those back-to-school nerves and ensure we stay well nourished to give us the best start to the academic year.

The first thing we can do, is to is talk to friends, talk to those you know in your school or in your year. Share your worries and concerns, by doing so you may feel a little less alone and lean on each other if needed. You may find comfort in knowing you are not the only one feeling this way. Also, family support if you feel you can talk to family, letting out those worries and concerns. If you feel you are unable to talk to anyone, perhaps try some free writing, on a piece of paper ‘mind dump’ everything that is filling your brain and sift out any worries that you can solve. If your head is filled with hypothetical worries, try your best to challenge them or distract yourself the best you can. Engaging in much needed self-care, whatever that looks like for yourself.

Another key thing we can do, especially for those in recovery from eating disorders, is to go on a meal plan for the first few weeks. Plan what meals you will be having and what snacks you feel comfortable having in between lessons and at break. It is ok to resort back to safe foods during the transition time, if it protects your recovery, however if you wish to keep challenging yourself, go for it! Plan lunch times and exactly what you will be taking, this will help reduce the stress and pressure of these early mornings when you are trying to get ready. It is one less thing to worry about as it is already planned. One less battle to be had. It is pre prepared and already to go. By planning, it will also ensure you are staying focused on recovery and making sure you are getting all the right nutrition so you have the energy and headspace to challenge the other anxieties you may be facing around going back to school. Remembering our metabolism needs fuel roughly every two to four hours to stay focused and well.

There may also, be a few anxieties around body changes that may or may not have happened over the summer break. A gentle reminder if I may, that your body is allowed to change and it will change throughout your life, try and be kind to yourself. As your body changes, your self-worth may feel like it has plummeted, however, your friends love you for the way you make them feel, the spring in your step and warmth in your heart, not for the size of your trousers. Take some time to practice body acceptance is you are feeling overwhelmed, for example, you may not like the way your legs look in your uniform, but your legs do an amazing job, getting you to school to see your friends, they allow you to walk and dance. We do not have to love our bodies, but we can accept that they do amazing things for us. If this is too difficult to practice at this time, that is ok too! Let us explore who you are as a person, away from your body, at the end of the day your body is the least interesting thing about you anyway. I wonder how your friends would describe your soul? What things you do that makes you, YOU!

If you are concerned about body image this new term, perhaps our Body Image Guide may help.

School can feel like a very overwhelming place at times, the first few weeks in particular as we settle back into routines. Please ensure you schedule in some time to detangle your thoughts and schedule time to focus on your own wellbeing. Plan ahead and talk to those around you, or spend some time journalling and getting creative. Whatever works for you

Good luck in the academic year ahead!

Contributed by Zoe Burnett 

Specialist Support Officer