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NEDA Week 2021: Connecting Beyond The Screen

By: Erin Birely, LCPC, Team Leader of The Renfrew Center of Baltimore and Alumni Services Coordinator

Posted on February 22, 2021

2.22.21 blog header imageFor many of us, National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAW) 2020 was one of the last "normal" weeks we had before our worlds and lives drastically changed, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We went from a life in which we were constantly interacting with others through work, running errands and social outings, to one where much of that was no longer available.

As a result, there's been an increasing need to do as much as we can virtually. While I have been able to see first-hand the benefits of that switch to more virtual services, such as individuals able to get help in areas where they were previously excluded from any assistance. However, I have also noted how virtual "connections" have reinforced a sense of isolation and disengagement for others.

As we process our lives during the past year and look forward with the hope of a vaccine allowing us at least a partial return to what life looked like before, it seems very likely much of this virtual world, and the ease of isolation, will likely remain. While this can be of benefit to some, this year we must highlight the need to come from behind the screen and let people know how we are really doing.

Our theme for NEDAW this year is Beyond the Screen: Invisible No Longer; it enhances the concept of ensuring every person is seen, heard and acknowledged as we continue on in a virtual world.

It is easy to show up to work in "Zoom Chic" attire (business on the top, sweats on the bottom) and not let people know how much of a struggle it can be to log on. It is also easy to send texts to friends - never fully telling them how we feel. We may put off connecting with people due to screen time burn-out, as opposed to recognizing other emotions may be having an impact on us.

My challenge for our alumni this NEDAW is to allow the people in your life Beyond the Screen and let them know how you are really doing. Try the challenges below to push yourself and let people in:
  • Find a trusted friend and set up a weekly emotion check-in with each other. Take this time each week to honestly talk about your struggles, successes and emotions throughout the week.

  • Talk to a support at work about any difficulties you may be having with setting work/life boundaries or feeling overwhelmed or not seen.

  • Take time each day to get outside. Even five to ten minutes sitting on a porch or walking in the sunshine can help you feel less isolated.

  • Re-engage with Zoom Game Nights or other interests to stay connected with friends who may have dropped off as the isolation this year continued.

  • Attend a Renfrew Center Alumni Event during NEDA Week to find extra support in your community. Click here to learn more and register for these events, open to community members and Renfrew alumni!
By engaging in some, or even all, of these challenges in the coming weeks, you just might begin to develop a world where you are seen Beyond the Screen.
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