girl in eating disorder recovery sitting on the edge of a pool with a hat on, eating pineapple

When I was actively engaging in my eating disorder behaviors, summer and the months leading up to it were when I felt the most pressure to adhere to all of the rules and restrictions that kept me sick. I’m now in recovery, but summer being on the horizon still brings me face-to-face with some of my deepest body insecurities. These insecurities tempt me to use my eating disorder behaviors to cope, to restrict, or to engage in unhealthy exercise habits again. With body dissatisfaction being one of the most consistent and persistent risk factors for eating disorders, this pressure during the summer can be overwhelming, especially for those who have engaged in these behaviors before. Eating disorder recovery reminders can be especially helpful for some as we head into these warmer months.

The pressures that come with summer can sometimes make it feel like it’s nearly impossible to stay in recovery. As we close in on what can be an especially challenging season for those who have and have had eating disorders, these reminders can help you move through these months with more confidence and peace.

6 Reminders to Help you Stay in Recovery During the Warm Weather Months

1. All bodies are worthy of being seen in “summer clothes”

Your body does not have to fit into a certain mold to enjoy the summer months. While heavily edited social media photos and videos may make you feel like your “normal body” needs to be adjusted or covered up, the reality is that most bodies – especially as we age – show signs of life. Our bodies are not objects to be admired; they are a roadmap of where we have been and all we have endured to get to where we are. Big, small, scars, cellulite, hair, acne, stretch marks: it’s all normal, and it’s all welcome in whatever outfits you choose to wear. Your body is part of your story, and your story does not need to be covered up.

2. And . . . “summer clothing” is not a prescription

While you should feel empowered to wear ALL the “summer clothes” your heart desires if you so choose, summer is not a prescription for shorts, sports bras, and sun dresses (even if it feels like it). You have the freedom to wear whatever makes you feel comfortable and confident, regardless of societal expectations. Choose clothing that allows you to move freely and express yourself authentically. Want to wear a bikini to the beach? Great. A one piece? Also great. Want to bypass the bathing suit and wear shorts and a light sweatshirt instead? Perfect. Wear what makes you feel comfortable, and this does not have to be typical summer outfits if you don’t want it to be.

3. The season is changing, your body does not need to

woman in bathing suit top and red visor in the summer

You have probably done a lot of work to get to where you are in your recovery journey. Resist the urge to engage in Eating disorder behaviors in an attempt to alter your appearance for summer. Your worth is not determined by how closely you adhere to societal beauty and “fitness” standards. Continue to focus on nourishing your body, prioritizing your Health (with a capital H because we are including ALL the things: physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional Health!) instead.

4. Every body is a “summer body” as long as it is a body existing in the summertime

Your body is valid and deserving of enjoyment and relaxation during the warmer months. Try to actively reject the notion that only certain body types are acceptable or desirable in summer settings. Instead, challenge yourself to focus on how far you have come in your recovery journey, and remember that all you have to do to have a summer body is to exist in summer time. That’s it, and that’s all. 

5. Pausing your recovery for the summer is not worth the long term pain, illness, and heartache you will need to heal from again.

You will not feel anymore “ready to recover” or re-enter recovery after summer is over. Pausing your recovery will only hold you back and make it more challenging to restart and stay committed to recovery in the future.  When you are tempted to put your recovery on pause and pick up one of your old, familiar behaviors, try to remember – for just a moment – all that those behaviors stole from you: your joy, your ability to be excited for an impromptu summer ice cream trip, your energy. If you are struggling with wanting to exit recovery, lean on your support system if you have one and connect with your care team. Your well-being is worth prioritizing year-round.

6. Ultimately, this season will pass (My apologies to the summer lovers)

If this season feels particularly hard on your recovery journey, you are not alone. While summer presents unique challenges for those in eating disorder recovery, the season will pass and you will find reprieve. Focus on taking each day as it comes and remind yourself that difficult moments related to the season will eventually ease up when the warm weather does. And if you keep your recovery a priority, you’ll be able to approach each summer knowing that you made it through the last. Keep moving forward on your recovery path, knowing that brighter days lie ahead.

Your Recovery Journey is Worth Fighting For

woman blowing on dandelion during the sunset while thinking about the eating disorder recovery reminders

Remember these things to help you work toward navigating the upcoming season with greater ease and confidence. A hard day does not mean a recovery “relapse,” and struggling with your body image does not mean you aren’t “doing enough” in recovery. Remember to be gentle with yourself and celebrate the progress you have made on your recovery journey. I hope you are able to move toward and through the summer months knowing that you are equipped with the strength and tools to not just survive the summer, but to actually enjoy it while maintaining your well-earned recovery.

By: Erika Muller, Assistant for Wildflower Therapy LLC

All images via Unsplash

How Can Wildflower Therapy in Philadelphia, PA Help You?

If you’re looking for someone to come alongside you to help you unpack and approach the the complex set of experiences and emotions that come with having and healing from an eating disorder , our therapists in Pennsylvania are honored to help!  In fact, you can get to know a little bit more about them here and book a free consultation here.

Other Mental Health Services Provided by Wildflower Therapy, Philadelphia, PA

Life is a unique and sometimes messy journey for each of us; we all have our own individual battles to fight. Our therapists know there is no one-size-fits-all approach to any of life’s challenges and because of that, we offer many unique perspectives and approaches to help meet you where you are with our Philadelphia, PA Therapy services.

We offer services for eating disorder therapy, services for anxiety, and depression, and have practitioners who specialize in perinatal mental health maternal mental healththerapy for college students and athletes. As well as LGBTQIA+ Affirming Therapy. As you can see, we have something to offer just about anyone in our Philadelphia, PA office. Reaching out is often the most difficult step you can take to improve your mental health. We look forward to partnering with you on this journey!