Eating disorders affect thousands of individuals each year, so it’s time to take action for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. I battled an eating disorder for seven years and have made it my mission to create awareness. The motto of the past few years has been "everyone knows somebody." And though you may not know explicitly, you do too. So let's take action from February 23, 2014 to March 1, 2014 for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and make a difference!
1. Say Something
The first part of creating awareness for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is to say something! Mention to your friends, family and coworkers through texts or just talking about the week. Eating disorders aren't the world's favorite subject to talk about, more often they are considered taboo. We need to break the stigma and say something. Don't be shy, this is your week to speak up!
2. Mirror-less Monday
Mirror-less Monday is a great way to create awareness in a school. All you have to do is cover the mirrors on campus with posters of positive affirmations. For three years, I did this at my high school and received a lot of positive feedback. Compliments may not be the cure to beating an eating disorder but improving self-image and esteem is. Small steps like this can help make a difference.
3. Facts Vs Freedom
The whole point of creating awareness is not to list Google-able facts. What matters is highlighting a path for change. The numbers will still be the same unless we do something. Stress to friends that you are always there to listen. Urge struggling loved ones to seek help and even offer to go with them, either to a consultation at an eating disorder clinic or to a counselor or therapist's office. Let people know that hope and recovery are possible and that it does get better.
4. Post-It Notes
I love Post-It notes! Carry a stack and a pen on hand and leave affirmations in bathrooms, dressing rooms or wherever you go. It could simply be a statement like “Love is louder than the pressure to be perfect.” You might even write something along the lines of “This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. It does get better.” Simple actions like this can spread the word fast.
Look on the official nedawarenss.org website to find a talk in your area. Encourage friends and family members to attend. If you know anyone struggling, offer to go with them. If there isn’t one near you, consider hosting a talk. Details about how to do that are on the site and worth a look in my opinion. Last year I gave a talk at my high school to over 60 students who wanted to learn.
6. Social Media
Now is the time to use social media to your advantage. Post statuses on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and so on. You can even find a PSA on the website or through YouTube to share. I normally post statuses at least two times a day because I feel it’s an important topic that needs to be addressed. Last year I received private messages that thanked me for saying something, told me their story or asked for help because they didn’t know where to go. Offering your ear makes a big difference!
Isolation is a huge part of eating disorders. That’s why this is a good week to go out of your way to get together with friends you haven’t seen in a while. Do something fun for yourselves! Even if you get together with your close friends, remind them that you are always there to listen. It may not be pressing but it’s good to know that you’ve got a friend to count on.
National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is quickly approaching. These are just my tips on how to get involved when you aren’t a specialist. I feel these are manageable things you can do to get the word out and make a difference. Which of these do you think you could do?