Family caregivers of those with eating disorders are often resistant to the concept of self care. It totally makes sense, you have a loved one who is being hijacked by a life threatening eating disorder and I’m over here talking about something that many have been conditioned to believe is ‘selfish’ and often there are some very pressing needs to attend to.

Did you know:

  • 40% to 70% of family caregivers report clinical symptoms of depression.
  • ​23% report caregiving has negatively impacted their physical health.

Of the family caregivers surveyed by The Archangel National Caregiver Survey, as cited in Blue Cross Blue Shield’s report, 57% reported high levels of stress, anxiety, and/or depression. According to this same survey, caregivers often use these coping mechanisms that have ill effects on their health:

  • 14% cope with alcohol.
  • 18% cope with medication.
  • 50% cope with food.
  • Caregivers whose care recipient has emotional or mental health problems are more likely than others to report a decline in their own health (25% versus 14%). [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.]

That’s a lot of data highlighting the ill effects of being an unpaid caregiver. Data alone won’t override a lifetime of social conditioning and parental instincts. That is why we need help to shift our ways. (See info below on ways we can help you shift if you’re ready.)

What’s stopping you from going against your instincts and letting go of a lifetime of “shoulding” on yourself and guilt about selfish self care? What do you think? What will get in your way? What will support you in making this big SHIFT HAPPEN?

I can tell you dozens of ways to get your oxygen mask on…AND, it won’t do much good until you are able to fully embrace the ‘why.’

So with this instinct to put our safety and potentially our life aside to save our child how do we override that and why should we? Here are 3 Reasons WHY we need to put our oxygen masks on first:

1.  Looking at the logical big picture. Well, just like an airplane filling with smoke, if we are busy putting a child’s mask on and we keel over from smoke inhalation, we can no longer be there to help that child. We have to understand that we cannot effectively help support our child in recovery if we do not have lungs full of oxygen and our cup full. It is essential to have our oxygen mask on.

2. What is your goal? No matter where you are on this journey or what your situation is, your goal  is likely helping to support your child/loved one in their recovery from an eating disorder. There is not yet an evidence based treatment that has been shown to work for everyone. No matter what treatment modality your family is utilizing, it will be more effective if you as the caregiver are calm, compassionate and competent. Which is not possible if we’re running on empty.

3. It won’t hurt, and can only help them and you. I’ve seen miraculous things happen when all that changes is that the primary caregiver (often the mom) gets into a routine of practicing extreme self care. I’ve had coaching clients tell me that their child in recovery began a shift toward recovery at the same time that they began practicing self care. In fact, some have had their child completely recover.

What is one small step you can take today to begin filling your cup and getting that oxygen mask in place so you can be a calm, compassionate, competent caregiver tomorrow?

I’d love to hear your thoughts so please feel free to comment and let me know. In the meantime, if you or another caregiver you know of are in need of support, feel free to share and check out our resources. 

1:1 coaching info here https://beckyhenry.com/individual-coaching-sessions/


Weekly Online Group Support for family caregivers is each Wednesday at 6pm CST (USA) and is open to families anywhere. https://beckyhenry.com/group-phone-support/


Monthly Free Online Group Support for family caregivers is the 1st Wednesday of each month at 5pm CST. https://beckyhenry.com/group-phone-support/


HUG Kits provide Hope, Understanding and Guidance for families who are not able to access the individual or group coaching. HUG Kits: https://beckyhenry.com/group-phone-support/  are an affordable way to get the 10 basic concepts she has seen that family caregivers need help with while supporting a loved one in treatment.


Recovery Roadmaps Webinar Series – Becky is co-founder of Recovery Roadmap Specialists with Wendy Wright, CEDS and Ibbits Newhall. The series, “Going From Panic to Plan” is available at https://www.recoveryroadmaps.com/ For your treatment team, we can custom package these topics. We’ve re-recorded them into 12 very short videos and have worksheets that accompany them. Ask us about our Affiliate and Subscription options today.

Hope Network, LLC