It’s that time of year again…back to school!
With a new school year comes a lot of NEW in our lives. New classrooms, new friends, new beginnings, new routines, and maybe a new living situation if you are heading off to college. Change can be hard for anyone, and this time of year, transitioning from relaxing summer days to a new routine can be even more of a jolt and overwhelming. On top of starting a new school year, having to balance your recovery, support, and ALL the appointments can add another layer of stress to this time of year.
How to Balance Recovery and Back to School
Plan, plan, plan! If you don’t have a plan, then you are planning to fail. We say that a bunch to our clients because having a plan with food, recovery, and life allows there to be one less thing to stress over. When we say a plan, it’s not about being perfect but more so that you have thought through things for your day and recovery. For example, have you thought through your school day and what’s going to happen for lunch?
Working with your dietitian to plan out lunches at school from what to bring, where to eat, what to buy, to what to do when the eating disorder thoughts pop up in the lunch room. Having a plan or at least talking through these scenarios helps you to feel more at ease during this back-to-school season.
Getting in ALL Your Appointments with School
We hear you! Back to school season is full of new appointments for school activities and you still have all your recovery appointments to keep too. So how can you balance ALL these afterschool activities and not let your recovery take a toll? First, check in with your current providers to see the level of support they recommend. During any transition, it might be a good idea to have more support than less. Second, set priorities with extra afterschool activities. Do you really need to be in ALL the clubs and sports during this transition time? Lastly, keep in mind what you make time for is what you will be successful at. If you notice that you are not making time for your recovery and seeing your support team, your recovery will slip.
Safeguarding Your Time and Mental Health
Whenever we embark on a new journey, whether that be starting college or moving, we want to share it with the people around us. Making new friends and connecting with others is so important. But what if your new group of friends start talking about going on a diet? Or what if they decide to skip a meal before a night of parties? And what if they don’t know that you’re recovering from disordered eating and are working toward healing your relationship to food?
There is no cookie-cutter way to avoid diet talk for good. There are several approaches you can take, including changing the subject, proposing a different activity to do with your friends, cleaning out your social media feed, or walking away – especially during really triggering moments. Just remember – it’s 100% okay to set boundaries with friends to prioritize your recovery, even if they don’t get it.
We hope you feel more prepared and armed with the tools to use as you approach this exciting time. By prioritizing your recovery, no matter how hard it can be, you are creating the space to explore other parts of yourself – ones that reflect your values and who you are. Transitions are hard and you can do hard things.
We wish you the best of luck during this new school year. As always, please reach out to us if you need more support. We’re here to help!
Adrien Paczosa is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian practicing in Austin, Texas and the surrounding counties.
She is the owner and founder of I Live Well Nutrition her Dietitian practice which started in 2007 and serves clients in the Austin, Texas area in two locations. Fearless Practitioners, the division of her business that offers training to dietitians and wellness professionals.