Embracing Distraction in Eating Disorder Recovery

May 19, 2020 Hollay Ghadery

While I fully believe we need to be connected to ourselves to heal, I also believe that as a coping strategy, distraction in eating disorder recovery works wonderfully. I have been using distraction to help me get through some of the worst parts of recovery with great success, and in this blog post, I'm going to tell you how.

Distraction Works in My Eating Disorder Recovery

You can't escape your feelings--I believe this whole-heartedly. I also believe that when it comes to mental illness, you can't always make peace with your feelings, especially when those feelings are coming from a place of sickness. 

Your feelings are a result of your past and your habits, neither of which defines you, but it can feel like they do when you're accustomed to giving them full-reign over your sense of self-worth.

Your feelings can tell you that you are a failure. That you are unattractive. That you're undeserving of love or respect.

Meditation and therapy are wonderful tools to guide you through these destructive thoughts, but I've found that sometimes, no amount of positive self-talk or calm thinking will help. When I'm extremely tired physically or have had an emotionally draining day, I don't even have the baseline energy required to put all the self-help strategies I've learned to work. 

This is when distraction in my eating disorder recovery has been a saving grace.

How I Use Distraction in My Eating Disorder Recovery

I watch a movie I love or read a book I've been wanting to read. I don't question whether or not it is of value. This means if I want to read a trashy romance novel, I do it. I don't beat myself up with thoughts about how the quality of this writing flies in the face of my degrees in literature. I just read the book or watch the movie and know that the distraction it provides is of a higher value than the superimposed judgments of other people who don't have to live my life, in my head, with my mental illness. 

I think, for people who suffer from mental disorders, it can be difficult to give ourselves permission not to suffer. It's a default, and we begin to believe that we deserve it.

We deserve to be happy. 

If your happiness is found in rewatching the first season of Outlander, reading Daniel Steele, watching anime, doing needlepoint or knitting, playing a video game or going for a walk, then embrace it. Yes, we need to address our feelings--burying them is not ultimately helpful or healthy--but sometimes, we will be too exhausted to confront negativity, and in these moments, there is no shame in doing whatever you need to do to make yourself happier. In my experience, distractions are one of the best ways to give yourself the break you need to be able to better focus on your recovery later on. 

Do you use distraction as part of your eating disorder recovery? I'd love to hear about your experiences with this coping strategy in the comments. 

APA Reference
Ghadery, H. (2020, May 19). Embracing Distraction in Eating Disorder Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 15 from

Author: Hollay Ghadery

Hollay Ghadery is a writer and editor living in Ontario, Canada. She has a book of non-fiction set to be published by Guernica Editions in 2021. The work dives into the documented prevalence of mental health issues in biracial women. Connect with Hollay on her website, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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