Suffering with anorexia, bulimia or compulsive overeating, isn't about food but sufferers use food behaviours to comfort, numb, isolate, purge, self-punish, etc. In other words to COPE with whatever is eating them up inside.
When on the road to recovery it is essential to find new coping skills in order to break the harmful patterns of starving or bingeing or purging etc. Once you learn to identify your feelings and issues, you then need to be able to cope with them. It is a difficult slow process, but without the process of learning healthier coping skills, sufferers are left with nothing as a healthy replacement for a set of really unhealthy behaviours.
A coping bank is essentially a place to store coping strategies that we put away for when we need them and it can be done in a fun and creative way too! A way I came across was to use something like a shoebox – something you can cut a slit in to make your deposits, but that is easily opened so you can make withdrawals when you have to.
Decorate the item you choose with crayons, paper, buttons, ribbon, photos of loved-ones, affirmations, fabric, cartoon characters, or anything you like!
Cut a small slit somewhere in the top or side of your item – this is where you will make deposits.
Write as many healthy coping alternatives on small sheets of coloured paper as you can think of. Here are some examples…
- Write in your Journal.
- Listen to your favourite music.
- Read some affirmations.
- Seek support from others dealing with similar problems, such as an online forum like the Eating Disorder Forum on Uncommonforum or a local support group if you have one.
- Colour in a colouring book.
- Play your favourite instrument.
- Talk to a friend.
- Pop bubble-wrap.
- Have a water balloon fight.
- Do some painting.
- Take a long hot bath.
- Go for a drive.
- Take a leisurely walk.
- Watch your favourite film.
- Spend time with your pet.
- Come up with your own too!
Put these on sheets of paper and deposit them into your coping bank. You can always add more as time goes on. Place your Coping Bank somewhere easily accessible and where you’ll know where it is. Make a mental commitment to yourself to go to your Coping Bank when you need to.
Next time you are feeling sad, angry, overwhelmed, confused, or distressed and need to find healthy ways to cope, go to your Coping Bank, pull out one of those sheets of paper and do what it says. Remember to put it back in your bank after you’ve read it, so it’s there for the future.
Remind yourself… “I am taking care of ME!”