Types of Life Skills and Self-Care Routines That Help with Eating Disorder Treatment

Life skills and self-care routines are integral to becoming and remaining recovered through eating disorder treatment programs. These two areas receive a lot of attention throughout the treatment process. As clients go into treatment, eating disorder care teams will assess their strengths and identify where they can focus their efforts to make a full recovery. Clients can then actively work on building the life skills and establishing the self-care routines that will support their journey toward becoming and remaining recovered.

With a large toolbox filled with helpful life skills and self-care ideas, people with eating disorders can take charge of their recovery and work through the challenges they face. They can get started in building this toolbox by exploring the most important life skills and self-care routines they will learn about in outpatient eating disorder treatment.

Helpful Life Skills Clients Will Learn While in Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatment

Through all treatment options for eating disorders, clients will have a chance to build life skills that can serve them well in becoming recovered. These life skills can help them better manage their eating disorder and follow their treatment plan. As clients use these skills they strengthen them, making them even more effective in helping eliminate destructive behaviors and thought patterns. Here are a few skills clients may learn about and practice using while receiving treatment for eating disorders in women.

Meal Planning

To best restore nutritional health and repair their relationship with food, clients will learn vital meal planning and prep skills while in eating disorder treatment. They will likely start with pre-made meal plans that model the optimal meal times, portion sizes and food choices. As they do their best to follow these daily meal plans, they can learn what works best for their body and mind.

Eating disorder care teams will continually assess their progress to determine when they can start building their own meal plans. As they begin this process, they will receive supportive guidance and support in creating optimal meal plans and following them. Eating disorder therapists will even dine with them at all meal and snack times to provide the support they need to work through the challenges of recovery.


Mindfulness techniques can help clients assess their wellbeing and make targeted changes to remain recovered. Staying mindful on a daily basis can take some work, however. This life skill requires clients to remain fully in tune with their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. With this approach, they can closely observe the way they think, feel and act in a way that allows them to identify destructive patterns.

Only through true mindfulness can clients objectively assess their mindset, perceptions and other factors that could have an impact on their recovery. They will work on this skill from the beginning of treatment as it takes a lot of training to master. Clients may need to double up on their efforts by addressing avoidance behaviors and similar barriers to recovery while in eating disorder counseling sessions. Once clients master this skill, they can actively participate in the management of their recovery.


To ensure they remain on the path to recovery after leaving treatment, clients must apply self-monitoring skills to the information gathered with mindfulness exercises. As they assess their wellbeing and identify the challenges they face, they can use self-monitoring to process that information and create a plan of action. In some cases, they may respond to the way they are thinking, feeling or acting with healthy coping skills, such as redirecting nervous energy to their hobbies. In others, they may need to reach out to their peer group or eating disorder treatment team for guidance and support in facing tough challenges.

Either way, self-monitoring helps clients acknowledge and respond to difficult emotions and other factors before destructive habits form. Eating disorder treatment teams will help their clients learn how to objectively monitor themselves and apply their healthy coping skills in an effective manner. Through this process, they will learn what works for them and what does not.


Another facet of mindfulness and self-monitoring revolves around journaling. Through journaling, they can keep a close eye on their progress by recording information about their eating habits and wellbeing. When made several times a day, such as at every meal, these journal entries create a strong record of the patient’s progress in facing their fears and building their skills.

With any of the treatment options for eating disorders, clients will have a chance to learn and practice solid journaling skills. Clients may start with worksheets so they can learn what a good journal entry should look like. These worksheets may cover daily dietary intake, mealtime events, eating habits and other areas that apply to their eating disorder and its symptoms. As they understand the purpose of journaling, they can even create custom fields that cover the areas they want to explore and understand the most.

With a close look at their data, clients can possibly uncover trends that show the underlying causes of destructive thought patterns and behaviors. They can look at the patterns with their eating disorder therapist to receive additional insights and suggestions on how to cope with the challenges.


Meditation can provide the grounding clients need as they work through treatment for eating disorders in women. This practice is extremely calming, even when faced with stress, making it an important tool to use as clients work on becoming and remaining recovered. To enjoy the benefits, however, it is important to know how to effectively clear the mind and meditate.

Clients can learn this skill while in eating disorder counseling. Therapists may begin with guided meditation exercises that help clients understand how to approach this practice. As the guided meditation triggers a deep relaxation response, clients can transition into attempting to meditate on their own.

As people with eating disorders practice meditating on their own, they can add mindfulness to the process to provide themselves with understanding and compassion. For this exercise, they meditate while acknowledging, without judgment, all thoughts and feelings that arise before letting them go.

How Eating Disorder Treatment Professionals Help Learn Important Life Skills

People with eating disorders will have many opportunities to learn and practice important life skills while in outpatient eating disorder treatment. Eating disorder therapists will introduce many life skills to help their clients identify the ones they may benefit from the most. At that point, they can focus on building those skills through repetition in various settings.

Clients will start at the outpatient eating disorder treatment center to practice these skills in a controlled environment. Once they make progress in that realm, clients can start to complete daily exposure exercises while pursuing treatment options for eating disorders. They can practice their skills while on outings to museums, parks, beaches, theaters and other interesting venues. With their dedication to practicing their life skills, they build the toolkit they need to become and remain fully recovered.

Importance of Self-Care Routines While Working on Becoming Recovered

A similar dedication to self-care can help clients work toward becoming and remaining recovered. Self-care can rejuvenate the spirits, renew motivation levels and help clients remain resilient in the face of stress. Through both life skills and self-care routines, they can create effective plans for handling the tough moments that life brings. Their preferred types of self-care can also help them cope with triggers, including anxiety.

As with any skill, clients have to practice self-care to make it a habit. In the early stages of learning, they may have to force themselves to practice self-care rather than turn to destructive thoughts and behaviors of the past. With time, however, self-care will become an ingrained habit that helps clients manage their eating disorders and keep their symptoms from returning.

Types of Self-Care Clients Can Use to Manage Stress and Follow Their Treatment Plan

Clients have many different types of self-care options to consider as they work through residential and outpatient eating disorder treatment. Their personal preferences and needs will determine which activities provide them the most value. Clients will need to try out each type of self-care activity to create a list of helpful options they can turn to when difficulties arise. Here are a few options clients can consider as they start to make this list.

Positive Affirmations

Positive self-care practices revolve around getting into a healthy mindset to better handle the challenges ahead. Positive affirmations can help with creating this beneficial mindset on a daily basis. They can also help improve mood, especially after facing and overcoming difficult challenges. As they make positive statements, they can alter processes in the brain and actually improve their outlook. With a positive outlook, they can get through tough challenges much easier and reduce the stress they may feel throughout the entire process.


Getting creative has the power to help clients process difficult thoughts and feelings to make better sense of how they feel and why they act the way they do. With simple crafting projects, clients can get in touch with their creativity without a big financial or time commitment. Through the creative projects, clients can start to work on their biggest challenges by exploring their underlying factors. The connections they build with their inner selves will help with mindfulness training and stress management as well.

Social Activities

For clients who benefit from social activities, organizing gatherings with friends and family can be a true act of self-care. As clients reach out for support from people in their social circles, they can gain insights and sympathy that help validate the way they feel. With support from their social networks, clients can openly celebrate their successes as they go through the levels of their treatment program. By building bonds in this manner, clients can rest assured they always have someone on their side whenever challenges arise.

Combining Life Skills with Self-Care to Remain Recovered After Graduation

Life skills and self-care routines can both help clients develop the tools they need after graduating from treatment for eating disorders in women. Clients can develop their skills and practice their self-care routines in tandem to increase their resiliency in identifying and handling all destructive thoughts, emotions and behaviors that come their way. Each eating disorder counseling session clients attend will provide opportunities to identify the skills they want to build and start learning how to use them effectively. To get started, clients can partner with eating disorder therapists to develop the life skills and self-care routines needed to become and remain recovered.