Navigating Recovery in the Summer

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Tori Gilman Headshot

Tori Gilman

Challenging but worth it

Close your eyes. Take yourself back to a time where you felt pure joy in the summer.

Maybe it’s you swimming with friends, running through sprinklers, or jumping in puddles barefoot. Maybe you’re on a rollercoaster or soaking in rays of sunshine.

If you’re like me and imagined your worry-free child self, there is something as we grow older (spoiler: diet culture, systemic injustice, and misinformation) that leads us to lean less into joy and more into insecurity.

Summer can be especially challenging for humans with eating disorders. On my personal recovery journey, body image struggles always heightened from June – August because of increased body exposure, swimwear, societal expectations, and frequent social events.

Recovery is hard for many reasons, but it’s worth the fight. It’s worth pushing through the discomfort to shift our mindset back to that of a worry-free child. So, how do we do that?

Vulnerability is courage; Seek support

At the start of recovery, I was terrified to share what I was going through and tried to conquer my ED alone. Once I let my guard down to my sister and fiance, I realized how amazing it felt to be vulnerable.

Letting loved ones into the hard parts of our life allows us to become more connected to them, plus it provides an opportunity to gain support from people that genuinely want us to get better.

If sharing with family and friends feels icky in any way, eating disorder therapists and Health At Every Size (HAES) dieticians are great support systems too!

Set yourself up for success this summer

When I was battling anorexia, bulimia, and orthorexia, I found the following helpful in summer:

1. Social media clean up

We start to believe the media we consume. The most helpful tip for my recovery was unfollowing all accounts that made me feel icky, and following new accounts focused on the following topics: ED recovery, body diversity, HAES, anti-diet. You’ll see a shift in your social media feed and likely your mindset!

2. Focus on your senses

It is important we focus on what our bodies can do/feel versus how they look. Try to stop and notice these things this summer. For example, thanks to my body, I can: sit around a campfire with friends, hold my partner’s hand, sing my favorite songs, feel the sun on my skin, swim, go for a walk, etc.

3. Wise mind

Our thoughts and emotional reactions are not always true. Wise mind is the overlap between our emotional and logical/rational mind. Practicing ‘wise mind’ is a great skill. It helps navigate challenging decisions, thoughts, and behaviors in the summer to choose what is best for you and your recovery.

4. Keep your mind on the prize

Most importantly, remember what you’re fighting for. Picture, in detail, the fully recovered version of your life. Keep this in the forefront of your mind to remind yourself of the life you’re fighting for!

Tori is a copywriter and entrepreneur living in Cincinnati, OH. She started her copywriting business for the freedom to choose her customers, in hopes of providing powerful messaging strictly for brands with genuine, value-driven missions (like NEDA). She is extremely grateful for her therapist, family, and fiance for all they have done to support her through her ED recovery. Tori is a mental health advocate and LGBTQIA+ ally who dreams of widespread self-acceptance, treatment accessibility, and body positivity.