The pumpkin spice candles and lattes have made their first appearances. Despite the high temperatures in many areas across the U.S., there are rumblings of Fall. We pack up the beach chairs and coolers and go back to school, back to work and back to routine as the calendar turns to September. One of my favorite writers, Emily P. Freeman, encourages readers to “look back before moving ahead” and take the time to consider some questions for reflection before beginning a new season of life.
In the thick of my eating disorder I felt I didn’t have the brain space or mental capacity to reflect. I felt inundated with calculating what I had eaten, debating whether or not to eat, planning what I could eat next and generally fixating on food and how my body looked. And I was absolutely exhausted by it. You may feel like this too if that new fad diet is taking up too much of your time or you find yourself constantly scheduling around that one workout class. In these instances, I left no space to ask myself the questions of “how do I feel?” and “what do I need?” and to answer them honestly, with self-compassion.
One of the many hard-won joys of recovery is more brain space. Less time micro-managing food and movement leads to more time to pay attention to how I feel and ask myself thought-provoking questions. Also, when I’m not focused on constantly shrinking my body I can actually listen to it. Sometimes it tells me I’m stressed when my shoulders rise to meet my ears and my neck tightens, other times it tells me I’m anxious when my stomach clenches or my breathing shortens. Our bodies are smart, and can tell us many things about ourselves if we’re open to listen and reflect.
If you’re interested in the practice of seasonal reflection, here are some questions for reflection to consider as we begin Fall. You can think about them while on a walk or jot them down in a journal. There is no right or wrong answer or way to reflect:
- What was your favorite moment from the summer?
- Name a thoughtful moment from summer.
- Where did you grow (emotionally, relationally, spiritually, mentally, etc.) this summer?
- What anxieties or worries are you carrying into this next season?
- What’s something you’re looking forward to this fall?
Jan Johnson says “it’s not the experience that brings transformation, it’s our reflection upon our experience.” Reflection allows us to see how far we’ve come and helps us to piece together where we’re going. Especially in the recovery process, which can feel slow, incremental and frustrating in the day to day, these seasonal reflections can help you to appreciate just how far you’ve come.
By: Maddy Weingast, Assistant for Therapy for Eating Disorders and Body Image