My Eating Disorder Prepared Me for the Stress of COVID-19

March 24, 2020 Hollay Ghadery

While eating disorder recovery is more difficult under stress, I also find that my recovery has left me oddly prepared for the prolonged, relentless stress that COVID-19 has placed on the world. As the news keeps coming in, and precious little of it is good, I find myself surprisingly resilient. If I'm honest, part of me thought I'd break down, but I haven't. In fact, I'm staying strong.

How Eating Disorders Prepare You for Stress

My heart goes out to people who are just starting their eating disorder recovery during these stressful times. I know from my experience in early recovery how any stressors can throw someone off course. It's challenging, to be sure. However, if you're reading this and you're struggling a little or a lot right now, I want you to know that you are actually better equipped to handle this pandemic than a great many other people. 

I feel that I am surprisingly prepared to cope with COVID-19. Eating disorders and stress go hand-in-hand; and, during my recovery, I was constantly learning new ways to deal with stress. 

  • I read books. 
  • I exercise every day. 
  • I talk to close friends or family.
  • I take long baths. 
  • I put myself to bed early. 
  • I watch my boxset of The Golden Girls as much as I want until I cry with laughter. 
  • I also let myself cry if I need to cry.

Instead of eating seven bowls of cereal and a jumbo chocolate bar and then making myself sick, I know how to deal with the often suffocating feelings of stress healthfully. I know how to do this because I've had to learn to take better care of myself to survive.

Eating Disorder Recovery Prepares You for Stress 

I'm far from immune to the stress of the current global climate. Like most people, the spread of COVID-19 has caused me tremendous feelings of anxiety, especially when I see people flouting social distance guidelines and still going out for dinners with friends when we've all been told how dangerous that can be. This cavalier attitude bothers me immensely, and sometimes, is almost enough to shake my faith in humanity.

Still, no matter how bleak the situation has become so far, I've seen bleaker. I've been bleaker. It's precisely because I've been lower than low that I know things can get better--but staying positive isn't enough. In this situation, like with eating disorder recovery, I find the best medicine is action. 

The best action right now is staying home and being kind to each other--and this is precisely what I intend to keep doing.

How are you coping with the eating disorder recovery and the stress of COVID-19? Please share your experiences in the comments. 

APA Reference
Ghadery, H. (2020, March 24). My Eating Disorder Prepared Me for the Stress of COVID-19, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 22 from

Author: Hollay Ghadery

Hollay Ghadery is a writer and editor living in Ontario, Canada. She has a book of non-fiction set to be published by Guernica Editions in 2021. The work dives into the documented prevalence of mental health issues in biracial women. Connect with Hollay on her website, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Lizanne Corbit
March, 24 2020 at 3:33 pm

I love that you talk about finding new ways to deal with stress, this is huge, for everyone right now. You shared some great suggestions! Also, thank you for mentioning action! Yes, we need to stay positive and grounded but action (in this case being mindful of others and staying home as much as possible) is absolutely huge. Thank you for this share! Keep taking care.

March, 24 2020 at 3:49 pm

Hi Lizanne! I'm so pleased this resonated with you--especially the part about taking action. I'm all for positive vibes, but good vibes alone aren't enough right now. You take care as well!

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