Photo Credit: Becky Henry, Kauai, Hawaii 2017

Parents and other caregivers of those with eating disorders you have so many valid fears to cope with daily. Simply taking the leap to help get a loved one into treatment can bring on so many fears: What modality is best? Which treatment program should I choose? What if I’m blamed and what if the clinician unwittingly colludes with the eating disorder?

There is the reality that 23 people in the USA alone die every day from eating disorders and many are hijacked for years. And then there are the nitty gritty fears that you dear, brave warrior caregivers are facing minute by minute.

Everyday I hear the raw terror from parents and partners telling me they are so uncertain about how to handle a loved one coming home from treatment. And the sadness and fear about your child or partner who has been physically harming themselves and often threatening more self harm and sometimes suicide.

Photo Credit: Becky Henry

There are so many different coping skills and tools that caregivers can utilize, it’s really about finding the tools that work for you in the different moments you go though. Take what you can use daily and make it part of your routine so you can have it be your default in the midst of a crisis or challenge. You may use one when you can barely breathe, a different one when you cannot stop crying, and yet another when you need the patience of a saint.

My Top 7 Tips for Coping with Fears: 

  1. Self-Care. This can look like a lot of things from making sure you get enough sleep, physical activity, time with family & friends, seeking support, calling a friend, reading a book, meditation, yoga, etc.
  2. Breath work. There are so many breathing tools to utilize to calm down our nervous systems so we can use our wise mind rather than react. A favorite of mine is the 4-7-8 breathing. Learn more about breath work here from my friend Laurie Ellis-Young at Breath Logic.
  3. Shift Perspective. When we realize that we can consciously choose our perspective we reclaim our power from the fear. I often teach this tool in which we try out different possibilities about how we might look at our situations.
  4. Faith. Many people find that relying on faith practices can take away some of the severity of the fear and give back some peace.
  5. Put it in a bubble. When we can notice the fear, name it and choose to release it we can imagine putting the particular fear into a balloon (choose the color even) and then let go of the string and watch it float away. I’m not a fan of actually doing this in real life as balloons pollute the earth…and it’s very effective to imagine this. 🙂
  6. Mantras. It can help to repeat questions or statements to ourselves to keep us in a positive mindset. For instance, “Everything is working out for me.” (Fake it till you make it). “Worrying will not help my loved one.” “What do I know to be true about this situation?” “Is this mine to handle?” or “This is not mine to handle/take on.”
  7. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) – I’m loving this one for the many exercises and skills there are for different ways of learning as well as varying levels of stress and the variety of stress-filled situations. You can read more here about what it is and read here some of the exercises and ways to start using MBSR now.

I’d love to hear which tool/s serve you best. Remember, F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real. AND…sometimes we do have evidence that there is something to fear, this is when we need to choose how we will react. This is a concrete thing you can do to help your loved one.

Your loved ones need you to be operating with a full cup and a calm, compassionate and confident state. We are here to help with that. You don’t have to do it alone.