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How to use the internet healthily when you have an eating disorder

27th February 2017

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Social media and the internet as a whole get a bad rap for promoting and exacerbating body image issues and eating disorders, and there’s no denying that some corners of the internet can be harmful rather than helpful.

Credit: Emmy Gilmour Instagram

However, there’s an argument to say that the internet can be a useful, inspiring and healthy resource for those that are struggling with body image or eating disorders.With the launch of The Recover Clinic’s app ‘Recover & Me’, Emmy Gilmour, psychotherapist and founder of The Recover Clinic and YouTuber and Instagrammer Grace Victory have shared their tips on how you can use the internet in a healthy way and even use it to benefit your mental wellbeing.

Don’t give yourself an internet ban

It might be tempting sometimes, but it’s 2017 and completely banishing the internet from your life is near-impossible. A more realistic approach is to be selective with your usage and maintain a healthy balance of the virtual world and the real world. Steer clear of topics or people you find triggering and make sure to take regular breaks to spend time in the ‘real’ world. It’s easy to lose sight of your identity online when there are so many different people trying to reinforce their own on social media. Make sure you give space and time to yourself, so you can check in with your feelings and discover ways to encourage and value your own identity.

Open up in virtual reality

One of the typical behaviours of someone suffering with an eating disorder or issues with body image is isolating themselves and removing themselves from social situations. The internet and social media can actually provide a safe framework to present yourself and interact with others, from the comfort of being behind their laptop or phone. Although you must always be mindful of what you disclose and who you interact with online, reading uplifting accounts of those in similar situations to yourself or sending comments of support can be incredibly helpful and even lead to making positive strives in the physical world.

Find the right connections

Social media has the incredible ability to connect you with people you otherwise wouldn’t necessarily have any contact with. Grace Victory, who has a following online of over 390,000, has found that the huge community that the internet offers has its positives. The full-time YouTuber and blogger says: “I can relate to so many girls I follow on Instagram or Twitter who share their stories of self-love and body acceptance – it’s nice to know I’m not alone. I have met other people like me who make me feel like I’m 'normal' and that I have nothing to be ashamed about.”

To help find these connections, she suggests putting thoughts and ideas out there that you want to see back – “start talking about and promoting the things that matter to you. Usually the people right for you and who will want to be part of your community, will follow you and connect with you simply because your words or images resonate with them.”

Follow truly inspiring people

Both Grace and Emmy advocate embracing (the right kind of) social media, here are some of their favourite Instagrammers.

Grace says, “all these accounts make me feel like I’m good enough, just the way I am”: @bodyposipanda, @omgkenzieee, @theconfidencecorner, @fatgirlsdancemovement

Emmy’s favourite accounts are @irlgazeproject, @gurlstalk, @rupikaur_, @bodyimagemovement, @amandadecadenet, @recoverclinic

When necessary - block, delete and move on

Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life that the internet cannot always be a place of positivity and wellness. However, it’s your internet, so as much as you can – mould it into what you want it to be. Grace employs a block, delete and move on technique when negative people appear, “because people who don't know me and accept me, don't need to be given my energy. Or, I address it and shut down them with love. It all depends on my mood, but for the most part – they’re looking for a reaction and I am too damn fly to give it to them. On the rare chance that it really gets me down, I come off the internet and practice self-care.”

Be mindful, real & honest

By logging on to the internet, you are instantly part of the biggest community in the world. If you’re on there looking for support, inspiration and positivity – then make sure you bring this to the community yourself as well. Grace’s advice is, be mindful, real and honest. Take everything with a pinch of salt and use your voice for the greater good. Be kind - we need more of that in this cold world.”

Read our interview with Grace Victory here.

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