5 Ways You Can Heal at Home, According to Real Recovery Stories
Home means something different to all of us. For those in eating disorder recovery, home can be a place of rest and safety while also representing the first place they “got sick,” making it a complicated place to heal. “A lot of [my recovery] came down to making my home environment something that wasn't triggering and allowed me to really focus on myself,” says mental health advocate Patrick Devenny in our latest episode of Mental Note.
Healing at home is essential to long-term recovery, and with the support of each other and our communities, we can shape our homes into the sanctuaries we deserve — together. Here, we asked recovery advocates from our Say It Brave Collective to share their favorite tips for making their homes a restorative space. Here’s what they had to say:
Keep a kettle on the stove along with your favorite teas
For some, brewing a cup of hot, aromatic tea can be a soothing at-home remedy to support healing — particularly if the kitchen is a trigger for you, or if you find yourself “looking for answers in the kitchen cabinets,” as recovery advocate Kara Richardson Whitely says. With the support of a specialized therapist, she learned that when she’s in the midst of a binge, making tea can pull her out of the moment and back into herself. “When I hold this cup of tea, I'm present. I have warmth in my hands. I can smell the aroma,” she says. “I am here in a moment instead of waiting for an answer where I'm not going to find it.”
Frame photographs that remind you of your inner strength
Reminding ourselves that we’ve overcome challenges in the past can help us muster the strength to navigate obstacles in the present. One way to tap into this inner fortitude is to seek out photographs of yourself as a child, or that capture a moment you’re proud of. “The best thing I did [for my healing at home] was find this picture from when I was 10 years old, standing on top of the jungle gym with my hands on my hips. I had just broken my arm but I still conquered it,” recovery advocate Jen Ponton says. “That is the kid that I know I am. I keep this picture of her in a hot pink frame on my desk. I say to her, ‘We've got each other. We can get through this.’”
Make your refrigerator a mood board for recovery
If there’s something that’s inspired or supported you through your recovery — a poem, a photo, a mantra, a list of “rules” — consider taping it to a frequently visited area of your home, like the fridge or a bathroom mirror. Consider these high-frequency areas a blank canvas, and your job as an artist is to fill it with images and words that uplift you. What’s more, if you live with other people who may need reminders or guidance on how to best support you through recovery, these visual cues can be useful for them, too.
“When I returned home from inpatient treatment, I knew that one of the most challenging things I would have to do is set boundaries with my family,” advocate Chris Henrie says. Then he remembered a list he was given during family treatment titled Dos and the Don'ts About Talking to Somebody with an Eating Disorder. “When I got home, I put the paper directly onto our refrigerator, and although it was challenging, it felt really, really good to finally feel safe and understood within my own home,” he says.
Connect with others for support — in and outside of your home
While it’s essential to have support from the people you live with, remember that your healing network extends outside of the home, too. You are not alone. From your treatment team to your group of friends, family, and fellow people in recovery, there are so many ways to build your community.
Virtual therapy, for example, can be a convenient and effective way to receive care. “Two years ago, when I was in the process of transitioning to college, the question came up about whether I was going to get a new therapist or if I was going to stick with my same therapist,” shares Katie Kittredge, ERC alum. Ultimately, virtual therapy became the most sustainable option for her, and now she leverages it whenever and wherever she needs. “While I’m not consistently in therapy anymore, I still have flexibility…and can do therapy from wherever I’m at.”
Create a “self-care corner” that’s just for you
What’s a self-care corner, you ask? It’s a space in your home that’s designed to soothe and be a true healing sanctuary for you and your recovery. No matter the size or location of your corner, fill it with items that feed your soul: puzzles, books, essential oils, arts and crafts, a good pair of over-the-ear headphones to zone out and listen to music with. “Let me tell you, this [self-care corner] changed the entire landscape of recovery for me because I had my space to just be unapologetically myself,” advocate Jayne Mattingly says.
For someone else who was grieving the loss of their mother throughout recovery, creating a self-care corner was essential. “I created spaces to grieve in my home, to take extra time for meditation or a workout, spaces where it was okay to just feel how I was feeling,” shares advocate Ivy Watts.
If you’re looking for extra support on your journey, try Eating Recovery At Home and Pathlight At Home, our virtual intensive outpatient programs for eating disorders and mood and anxiety disorders. These programs are available and covered in-network by most commercial insurance plans. Learn more about how to take recovery home and follow us on Instagram (@eatingrecovery and @pathlightbh) to connect with our Say It Brave At Home campaign.