We’ve talked a lot in our posts about what to do when you’re having urges to binge (restrict, purge, etc). One of the things we’ve mentioned is distractions, and how delaying a binge can sometimes help the urge pass by. Developing a personal coping skills tool kit is an important part of recovery. But in the heat of the moment, especially early on, it’s so difficult to think of coping skills that it seems almost impossible to do anything but binge.
So, here is a list of some ideas that you can turn to when all you can think about is “Oh my god, I want to binge.”
- Call or text a friend. This was – and still is – my go-to method to cope with urges. Even when I don’t get a reply, sometimes just the act of telling someone “I want to binge RIGHT NOW,” helps the feeling pass, even just a little. Sometimes, I want someone to talk me through it, to help get to the root of why I want to binge. Other times, I just want someone to tell me, “Okay, I hear you. It’s okay.” It’s important to know who is going to give you which reaction, and also to be frank with people as to what you need in that moment. Sometimes it will be encouragement. Other times, it’s just some understanding.
- In the same vein, challenge a friend to a game of Words With Friends, or Draw With Friends, or any interactive game that requires playing with another person. Quiz Up does all of the work for you, with the added bonus of being able to choose the category you want to be quizzed on, which can be as general as sports or as specific as Harry Potter Trivia. When even interacting with someone via a game feels impossible, I play a lot of 2048 and Alphabear. Anything that keeps my brain busy and can hold my attention without being too overwhelming.
- Journal. For me, the most effective method is to write in a notebook with a pen, but I’ve also journaled online and sent long, drawn out, in depth e-mails to Laura that might as well be a therapy session, and she does the same for me. You can even pull out your phone and start jotting down random words. Write down what you’re feeling, even if it’s just “I want to binge,” over and over and over again. You’d be surprised by how much it helps.
- Play music. For me, what works best is lying down in a dark room with my headphones in and a song that matches my mood turned up as loud as I can stand. This is especially helpful when I am feeling overstimulated and/or overwhelmed. It gives me one single thing to focus on while blocking out everything else.
- Go cuddle your pet. Your pet loves you no matter what, and they do not judge. Playing with my cats has gotten me through many a bad time. You should do it now anyway, because pets are awesome. Go ahead, I’m not going anywhere.
- Get moving. I don’t necessarily mean exercise – though if that’s something you find helps with stress and isn’t something triggering, have at it. Take a walk around the block. Do some yoga – there are plenty of free and easy routines you can follow on YouTube (this channel is my favorite). Sometimes, even a change of scenery can help, be that going to a different room, sitting outside, or heading to your local coffee shop. Anything to keep you from sitting in the same spot and thinking about bingeing.
- Color. No, seriously. There is a reason that adult coloring books are all the rage right now. Coloring is relaxing, soothing, and is proven to help combat stress. So break out those crayons and colored pencils. Or markers. Or paints. Whatever floats your boat. You can find plenty of coloring pages on google, or just head to your local discount store. I recently bought a bright pink Disney princess coloring book, and I am not ashamed.
- Do something that makes you happy. Some ideas:
Watch a movie
Marathon your favorite TV show
Read a book
Read some fanfiction
Watch cat videos on YouTube
Take a hot shower or a bath
Anything you can reach for in the moment that you already know you enjoy doing and will keep you occupied on something other than your racing thoughts.
- Some other helpful links:
Sand Art – Yes, like you used to make at birthday parties when you were a kid. I LOVE THIS SITE.
Stop, Breathe, and Think – Guided meditation app tailored to your current emotion, which you can also use on the web.
Bored Button – Bored? Press the button. Seriously addicting.
Emotional Baggage Check – Choose whether to leave your baggage or pick up someone else’s.
Find a new hobby – Beginner’s tutorials for just about anything, courtesy of the Kill Your Anxiety tumblr. Check out their resources and self-care tags for even more ideas and encouraging words.
You feel like shi*t – A “choose your own adventure” website, specifically tailored to people who have problems with self-care. Takes some time to go through, which is one of the reasons why I like it so much.
What do YOU do when you need to distract yourself? Feel free to leave your suggestions down in the comments!