Part of any good relapse prevention plan should be some ideas for alternate behaviors or activities for when you feel the urges to engage in ED behaviors. Over the years, I've come to realize that this list isn't always enough. When I'm really struggling with urges, some of the suggestions on the list can seem asinine--feel like purging? Knit a scarf. There ya go.--and sometimes you would be happy to knit a scarf if only you had some yarn and a pattern. But you don't.
Enter the Emergency Kit.
My kit is an old shoebox that I decoupaged in treatment and inside I keep my list of alternate behaviors, and I also keep some supplies for these alternate behaviors. Some of these supplies include a bottle of bubbles, a skein of funky yarn, a rubber ducky, some meaningful mementos, phone numbers of friends/family, and a $5 Starbucks gift card. I also have a really hard jigsaw puzzle, but that's in my closet, not the box. When I'm really wanting to act out on the eating disorder, it's all well and good to think that standing on the back deck and blowing bubbles would make you feel better, but you also need to know where those bubbles are and (this is just as important) have them available for easy access. At these times, I have minimal frustration tolerance, and rooting through drawers and boxes is not going to be helpful. Hence the Emergency Kit. Everything is all together and easily accessible.
My list of alternate behaviors includes the following:
- heavy-duty cleaning
- snuggling with Aria
- listening to my iPod
- taking a shower
- looking at travel websites
- lighting candles
- take a nap
- deep breathing
Ditto for the emergency kit. I have a few items I'd like to add, such as Silly Putty, Play-Doh, and Legos. But the contents have remained remarkably stable over the years (this either means I picked good items or I'm frighteningly consistent).
The other key factor is to actually use your emergency kit. I used to tell myself that this wasn't a real emergency and I should save the yarn, bubbles, whatever, for an actual emergency. I've had to tell myself, over and over, that any thoughts of turning to my emergency kit are an actual emergency. I wasted my money if all the stuff does is sit there and collect dust.
What sorts of items do you want to include in your emergency kit? Share your responses in the comments!