Jane Fowler - Head of Customer Support Services
I hope you have all been enjoying some of the lovely spring sunshine we have been having recently. This week’s Wellbeing Wednesday looks at some of the real challenges faced by the many people who are affected by an eating disorder. Covid has resulted in many changes to our lives and for some people this has meant increased isolation and the loss of the support networks that they previously relied on to protect their mental health and to manage their eating disorder. Combined with a sense of general uncertainty resulting from Covid and its impact on society, this can be very serious for those friends, colleagues or relatives who are affected by an eating disorder. If you have been affected or are concerned for a loved one or colleague, do seek support using the information below.
We also have some hints and tips on mindfulness this week. Although it sounds so simple, concentrating on steady breathing can really help you to pause, reset and approach a task or a busy day in a calmer and more productive way. I hope you find them helpful.
Eating Disorders Awareness Week March 1st – 7th
Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses. Anyone, no matter what their age, gender, ethnicity or background, can develop one. Some examples of eating disorders include avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), bulimia, binge eating disorder and anorexia.
Stereotypes about who gets eating disorders might make them even harder to spot among older people, men and boys, and ethnic and cultural minority groups. The real number of sufferers overall could be much higher than we think, particularly among groups like these.
There’s no single cause and people might not have all symptoms for any one eating disorder. Many people are diagnosed with “other specified feeding or eating disorder” (OSFED), which means that their symptoms don’t exactly match what doctors check for to diagnose binge eating disorder, anorexia, or bulimia, but doesn’t mean that it’s not still very serious.
Each year, Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity, runs Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Beat’s purpose is to end the pain and suffering caused by eating disorders which affect around 1.25 million people in the UK. Beat provides services to encourage and empower people to get help quickly, equips family and friends with essential skills and advice and campaigns to increase knowledge of eating disorders and for better funding for treatment.
Beat also have a helpline available for advice and support 365 days a year from 9am–8pm during the week, and 4pm–8pm on weekends and bank holidays. Tel: 0808 801 0677
Eating Disorders Awareness Week provides an opportunity to highlight the impact of eating disorders and provide helpful information and advice.
Health Assured, our EAP, also offer advice and support in relation to eating disorders and Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
The food of love by Amanda Prowse
Reviewed by Julie Hallett
What do you do when your daughter develops an eating disorder that threatens her very existence?
Freya Braithwaite seemingly has the perfect life, with a long and happy marriage, two beautiful teenage daughters, Charlotte and Lexi, and a fulfilling career as a food writer. However, things start falling apart when Lexi develops an eating disorder which, over time, becomes so serious it ends up putting her life at risk. Freya and the rest of the family come to question things they previously took for granted and struggle with feelings of helplessness in the face of Lexi’s anorexia.
This book deals with the very difficult emotional issues of a family trying to understand and support a child with an eating disorder and the impact this has on each of them. There were times I wanted to shake Freya into action but felt the book tackled some really difficult decisions made by parents trying to support and protect a child who is suffering from a severe mental health condition.
Lexi’s anorexia is portrayed in quite graphic detail and can be difficult to read, as well as the resulting decline in her psychological wellbeing. This is a work of fiction but the issues affecting a young person struggling with their mental health in the form of an eating disorder and the impact this has on those close to them was well researched and insightful.
Wasted - A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher
Reviewed by Julie Hallett
For an alternative view from someone with first-hand experience of living with an eating disorder, “Wasted - A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia”, by Marya Hornbacher may be of interest. It is a harrowing portrayal of a childhood and adolescence shaped by eating disorders and the struggle with her mental health, but it is also a story of survival and hope for the future.
Mindfulness at Work
This week we’d like to share a few tips with you on how mindfulness can help us at work. We’ve all been doing our best over the past year to sustain some sort of normal daily life as much as possible but with disruption to how we live and work, shifting measures to keep us safe and continued exposure to major news events, it’s understandable that some days just feel a bit harder than others.
Taking a few minutes to stop, focus on our breathing and gather our thoughts can help us to clear our head, manage signs of stress that can creep up on us on a busy day and get a bit more perspective on whatever problem we are trying to solve at that moment.
Employees can access more information on mindfulness along other health and wellbeing courses via the LEON e-learning platform on The Hub.
The Headspace website also has some further information on how mindfulness can help us at work with including tips such as checking email less to help cope with distractions and guided breathing exercises.
You could also search online to find guided breathing exercises that work for you. They don’t need to be very long, just a few minutes between meetings or before you move on to your next task can make all the difference.
Look after yourselves and do keep in touch – we love to hear from you.