Summertime: Why This Season Is Stressful for People with Eating Disorders
Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer. This season is a perfect time for some fun in the sun. Many of the country’s beaches are open to the public.
Not everyone, however, is looking forward to the new season.
Apart from the ongoing global pandemic that’s limiting everyone’s fun, summer is a dreadful season for people with eating disorders and those undergoing eating disorder treatments.
Here’s why summer may be a difficult time for individuals with disordered eating:
The Influence of Social Media
During summer, social media users are bombarded with ads containing the seemingly perfect summertime photos of beautiful men and women. These pictures may show models flaunting their branded swimsuits, partying with friends, and having a grand time at the beach or pool.
Unfortunately, these images may evoke desires for unrealistic body figures, social comparisons, and feelings of isolation or missing out. These could trigger depression or relapse for people with eating disorders. Individuals with this condition may think that their body will never be good enough to achieve the “ideal summer body” that they see on social media.
Swimsuits and Body Image
People often associate the words “summer” and “beaches” with less clothing. The pressure to wear bikinis, swimming trunks, tank tops, and board shorts may trigger a range of eating disorder symptoms for men and women with binge eating, bulimia, and anorexia. They may feel ashamed of how their body looks and turn to harmful food behaviors, such as crash dieting, to achieve the figure they want.
The Transition to an Unstructured Schedule
This is most applicable to students who follow a highly structured schedule. When people are on summer vacation, they have more time on their hands to do just about anything. The lack of a structured schedule may affect the healthy routines of people recovering from eating disorders. They can, for instance, forget about following set meal plans.
On the other hand, a summer chock-full of fun activities and trips may be detrimental to people with eating disorders. The stress of doing too much may cause a relapse, anxiety, or depression.
How People with Eating Disorders Can Cope During Summer
Summer fun and relaxation is still possible even for individuals with these conditions. If you’re worried about summer derailing your recovery-oriented goals, take note of these guidelines:
- Spend time with people who love and trust you. They can serve as your go-to persons and support beams when summer becomes too stressful for you.
- Determine what you’re going to eat ahead of time if you’re attending summer parties or gatherings.
- Lay off social media pages and magazines. As much as possible, avoid looking at photos, articles, or posts that feature bikini selfies and “beach-ready bodies.”
- Maintain a structured schedule even if you’re on summer break.
If you need further assistance, The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health is here to help you break free and live free from eating disorders. We offer a range of treatment programs, such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), for patients of all ages in Westport. Our team of psychiatrists will help you manage your condition and walk with you on your journey to long-term recovery.
Schedule an appointment today by filling out our contact form.