It’s officially the festive season and no matter where you are in life – at school, university, home or at work – you are most likely to find yourself involved in some form of festive celebration. In this series “I’m Recovering This Christmas”, we’re sharing our thoughts and tips to keep your recovery the priority this winter.
First and foremost, it’s important to highlight that anxieties and fears felt around social events at Christmas are not exclusive to those in recovery from an eating disorder. Rather, a whole lot of people feel anxiety during these events, particularly when those in attendance are people you haven’t seen in a while. So, forgive yourself for having these concerns and know that there are ways to take the pressure off. Here are some tips from our clinicians…
Bring an ally, find your safe friend or have someone on call
If possible, bring along someone who makes you feel safe, or, if they are attending the event already give them the heads up that you might stick by them or have to check in with them if things get a little overwhelming. If it’s the type of event where you can’t bring someone along, let them know you might need to give them a call or drop them a text. Remember, it’s okay to state your needs and have them met. You’re merely looking after yourself and prioritising your recovery – and your loved ones will only support that.
Have an exit strategy
Know that you can remove yourself from the room – perhaps for a 5 minute break, or leave entirely if it’s getting too much. It’s not your fault if things feel overwhelming. Confide in a friend or family member that you might need to leave, and prepare yourself for where you will go (perhaps to your bedroom? A friend’s house?).
Have a list of mindful activities you can do during down time
Let’s say you’ve had your Christmas meal and people are lounging on the sofa, slowly digesting and watching Christmas films. If you feel anxiety or critical voices creeping in, have a list of mindful, relaxing activities that you can do in the company of others.
Remember, uncomfortable feelings are impermanent
We know how easy it is to get caught up in intense, overwhelming emotions. Keep in mind that although these feelings are, in the moment, entirely all-consuming, there will be an end point. Keep communicating with those around you and resort to therapeutic activities that help you feel grounded and safe. As we’ve said before, one day you’ll catch yourself and remember just how far you’ve come. Keep affirming to yourself that your recovery is possible.