by Dr. Deah Schwartz
Therapeutic Tidbit of the Month
Did you know that February is National Eating Disorders Awareness Month? February is also a month of unique challenges for our clients and those of us working in the fields of eating disorders, health and wellness, body image, and size acceptance. With the holiday season behind us, February provides the chance to settle back into normal routines and less hectic schedules. The decrease in food related activities and parties may bring relief to those who struggle with weight cycling diets, binge eating, and other issues related to food. Predictably, it is also the time that many of last month’s New Year’s resolutions to diet, work out, and lose weight begin to dissolve and are replaced by feelings of panic, disappointment, and anxiety. What could be a time for feeling more relaxed and less pressured instead leaves some people spiraling down into feelings of failure and self-contempt.
And yes…there is Valentine’s Day. A holiday with seemingly good intentions of expressing our love for each other, often has the paradoxical effect of people feeling unloved and unlovable if they are not recognized by someone else as special. And of course, what is the most common way of showing someone that we love them on Valentine’s Day???
Isn’t it ironic that so many women feel unloved and unlovable because of their negative body image and disordered eating behaviors, and here is a holiday that has chocolate and being loved completely intertwined? On the positive side, it provides us with another opportunity to practice:
- Loving one’s body in the here and now.
- Remembering that mindful eating does not mean an all or nothing approach to food based on periods of deprivation and bingeing.
- Seeing food as an enjoyable experience and NOT the enemy.
- Self-forgiveness and knowing that a healthier life is not measured by a scale.
And perhaps most important of all:
- The most meaningful valentine anyone can receive is the one we give ourselves.
SprED the Word: Therapeutic Expressive Arts Activity
Objective: February is Eating Disorders Awareness Week which provides us the opportunity to either learn more about our own Eating Disorder or teach others about Eating Disorders. Social Media is a powerful tool for communication and it is important to become “multi-lingual” and fluent in speaking Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
Materials: Paper, pencils, pens, markers, collage materials, glue sticks, scissors. Optional: Access to the internet.
- Choose one aspect about Eating Disorders that you would like to share with people via a social media tool.
- Choose which tool or tools you are going to design the information for taking in to account word limits, graphics, privacy considerations, etc.
- Using the materials provided Design a “post” about your personal experience with an Eating Disorder or information about Eating Disorders to share with someone who may have an E.D. or work with clients, or have a family member where Eating Disorders are an issue.
- This can be anything from creating a full Facebook Page, a Pinterest photo, or as simple as a Tweet.
- When your piece is finished, share with the group and discuss.
- If appropriate, post the finished work on a Social Media Site during February.
If this directive is too threatening designing a logo/symbol for Eating Disorder Awareness is another option and should include one specific reference to why it is important to increase our own and others’ awareness of E.D.’s.
This expressive arts idea is from contributing guest author Dr. Deah Schwartz. Once a month, Dr. Schwartz shares an art therapy exercise or idea to facilitate exploration, increased awareness and healing in the areas of body image and eating disorders. Some of these activities may need to be facilitated over more than one session, or modified for different ability levels, size of group, budget and size of work space. These directives may be used in individual or group therapy sessions or as self-help activities. Sometimes the activity itself is nothing new or brilliant but the OBJECTIVE of the directive is unique and specifically tailored to exploring issues related to body image and disordered eating. ENJOY! Fun is the main ingredient! Learn more about eating disorder therapy here.
Each month I offer an Expressive Arts Therapy directive that focuses on Body Image and or Eating Disorders and is associated with the theme discussed in the Monthly Therapeutic Tid Bit (see above). These directives may be used in individual or group therapy sessions or as self-help activities. Sometimes the activity itself is nothing new or groundbreaking, but the OBJECTIVE of the directive is unique and specifically tailored to exploring issues related to body image and disordered eating. ENJOY! Fun is the main ingredient!