Many people look forward to the holidays, but for someone with an eating disorder, this can be an incredibly anxiety-inducing time.
Time spent with family and friends, around drinks and food, can cause intense stress, anxiety and uncertainty. To help you navigate the festive season, our therapists, Pippa and Linda, have teamed up and share their top tips for keeping your recovery the priority.
Keep to your recovery schedule
You may already have a good idea of what works to keep you going in recovery. Keep this in place! Make sure your day is structured around activities that support your growth.
Set clear boundaries
Do you need to limit the number of people at an event to people with whom you feel comfortable? Do you need to let people know that you would prefer not to engaged in conversations that circulate around topics such as food, weight and appearance? Consider what boundaries you need to be in place ahead of time, to ensure the day or event can go as smoothly as possible. We explore how to set safe boundaries more in a previous Christmas blog.
Get up at a reasonable hour everyday
Starting the day late can interfere with your meal plan. As such, it’s important to rise at a reasonable hour each day to keep your structure in place.
Previously, we’ve shared our tips on how you can create winter routines in this blog, including bringing awareness to how much sleep you need and how much time you need in the mornings to prepare for your days.
Stick to your meal plans
Christmas can introduce a lot of food – including fear foods. To help mitigate feelings of overwhelm or uncertainty, stick to your meal plan. Select your snacks ahead of time to mitigate rumination, and plate your meals rather than pick from a buffet. Remember, you can always lean on others for support with this.
See if you can stay attentive and present to your surroundings, your feelings and your embodied needs. Are you full? Are you hungry? Are you thirsty?
Try to practise ‘staying on your plate’ – in other words, being mindful of your individual needs and recovery, resisting the urge to compare where possible.
Plan a support system in advance
Chose a person or group of people who understand and discuss how they can support you during the day. If you are feeling low or anxious, tell someone. Don’t try to hold it all together by yourself! If face-to-face contact is difficult, communicate this via text or phone. It may help to plan a brief daily check-in call during the holiday.
Remember, help can come from many different sources – a helpline, a parent, a best friend, even a colleague! Tune into what your needs are and ask yourself: what do I need from myself today? And what do I need from others? We’re social beings and so much (so much) of our wellbeing comes from being connected and supported by others.
On this note, socialise with family and friends
As much as possible, try not to isolate yourself. The festive season can be a great time to limit social media usage to avoid unhelpful triggers.
Listen to your heart
During stressful moments we can find that the eating disorder ‘voice’ gets louder and we may experience more eating disordered thoughts. To help differentiate in this conflict, tune into what your heart might be saying – these will be your feelings, your desires, your needs, and will likely have a self-nurturing or soothing intent.
Write down your coping skills
Self-affirmations or words of encouragement and motivations are great for moments of vulnerability over the holidays. Post-it notes are great! You can place them in locations you will see them often. Read here some words of encouragement our online community shared with Orri last Christmas.
A lot of festive celebrations focus on food, but your perspective is your power! Instead of focusing on the food, focus on socialising, playing games or going for a walk with someone instead (whilst being mindful of over-exercising). If this is something you know you may struggle with, you can read our informative blog on when exercise can become an addiction.
- It is recommended that you avoid alcohol, especially if you tend to over-indulge. This can lead to your feeling more vulnerable the next day
- You can start your day with an inspirational reading or meditation, such as Headspace or a Recovery App.
Please remember to have fun and keep it simple. Your steps and actions can be good enough, not perfect!