Receive Painful News Without Taking It Out on the Body

January 27, 2022 Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

To be honest, this is not the post I originally planned to write today. However, life has an interesting—often infuriating—habit of forcing my attention to land on unhealthy behaviors or unresolved issues that I need to acknowledge but would much rather ignore. Sometimes this comes in the form of painful news or circumstances, while other times, it comes in the form of a reminder that I'm an imperfect human who still has healing work to do. But today, in particular, I find myself asking the question: How do I receive painful news without taking it out on the body I live in, which has done nothing to deserve my wrath? 

Taking Painful News Out on the Body Is Not a Helpful Response

This morning, I received a phone call delivering painful, unexpected news, which tore a healing wound open once again. I will not reveal too many details of the situation because it's still fresh, and I absolutely do not want to trigger anyone else in a similar circumstance. But to summarize, I found out a few hours ago that an outcome has finally been reached in a sexual assault case I filed back in 2019. The judge chose to rule in favor of the defense with a "not guilty" verdict on the basis that she believes I fabricated the assault in question. Of course, I know the truth, but her ruling pierces like an arrow nonetheless.

Under the influence of my eating disorder, it would be so easy to funnel this pain into harmful, self-medicating behaviors. I would even feel justified in making that choice to numb out. However, since I am committed to eating disorder recovery, part of this commitment process is learning how to receive painful news without taking it out on the body. It's a counterintuitive response—often the exact opposite of how I actually want to respond. But I also understand that punishing this body of mine is not helpful in the long term. It does not resolve the situation, and it certainly does not relieve the pain or enhance my own wellbeing.

Healthier Alternatives to Taking Painful News Out on the Body

Today as I wrestle with the impulse to take this painful news out on my own innocent body, I must remember how far I have come in eating disorder recovery—much too far to backslide into comfortable but detrimental territory. While it might feel like a relief in the moment to indulge in those familiar behaviors, this response will not heal the emotional scars I carry within. The eating disorder can create a temporary distraction, but it cannot permanently mend a broken heart. It only causes more destruction in its wake.

Everyone encounters low seasons in life, but as I am learning, it's an intentional choice to receive painful news without taking it out on the body. So, here are a few healthier coping mechanisms and self-care practices that I will grasp onto instead. These actions might sound basic, but when I feel particularly raw and vulnerable, basic is exactly what I need. 

  1. Call a trusted family member or friend who is able to offer a supportive listening ear. 
  2. Go for a walk outside to enjoy the fresh air and soak in nature's therapeutic energy.
  3. Take slow breaths from the diaphragm—feel each inhale and exhale deep in the body.
  4. Brew a warm, comforting pot of coffee or herbal tea, then savor it under a blanket.
  5. Reach for a journal and write down anything that comes to mind without censoring it.
  6. Listen to a music playlist of empowering anthems (Broadway ballads are my favorite).
  7. Watch an animated Disney film on the couch with a bowl of cereal—it's so nostalgic.
  8. Wrap the body in a hug and channel as much self-love as possible into that embrace.
  9. Do an immersive, hands-on activity, such as a jigsaw puzzle or a do-it-yourself craft project.
  10. Let the tears flow for as long as necessary—an emotional purge feels so restorative.

Now I want to open this conversation to you as well. Are you able to receive painful news without taking it out on the body, or is this a challenging area in your own eating disorder recovery? What self-care practices do you reach for in those heavier moments? Please feel free to share your insights and experiences in the comment section below. 

APA Reference
Schurrer, M. (2022, January 27). Receive Painful News Without Taking It Out on the Body, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 18 from

Author: Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

Connect with Mary-Elizabeth on Facebook, Instagram and her personal blog.

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