The holidays are almost upon us, and whilst many people are eager to celebrate, we are aware that some people – particularly those living with eating disorders – can struggle at this time of year.
Connecting with loved ones, celebrating with food, drink and presents can be complicated even in the most ‘normal’ of years – yet this year has been far from normal. Our tiered existence is complicated, frustrating, exhausting, and unpredictable – all feelings that can be tough to tolerate as someone with an eating disorder.
If you, reading this, are someone who struggles with the festive period, know that your experience is welcome here and it is completely valid. It is ok to not be ok, the most important thing is that you continue to show up for yourself, every day.
We asked our Instagram followers for their tips for coping with Christmas and the festive season. With Christmas just a few days away, perhaps hold onto these and consider those that might need action sooner rather than later.
1) Make a list of coping strategies and distractions to keep in hand as reminders
You know yourself better than everyone: you know what unsettles you, and what soothes you. You may have a list of different coping mechanisms for different challenging emotions or feelings, or maybe for different experiences. Pop a note of them in your phone and perhaps let your loved ones know as well so they can point you in the right direction.
2) Remind yourself of your long term goals and the benefits of recovery
If you can identify which areas of your life are being held back by the obstacle of the eating disorder, it means you can visualise a (better) life without that obstacle. Hold onto that vision. Remember that it’s today’s work that’ll get you to where you want to be.
3) Set yourself up for success by pre-empting those tricky times in the day
It’s likely you know what experiences are a challenge for you. Use these challenging moments as an opportunity to demonstrate your strength and resilience, by acknowledging them and rising to them. Go for it!
4) Be honest with family and loved ones around you. With a trusted person, make a plan for the big day
Less uncertainty = less anxiety. Hold yourself and your goals accountable by sharing them with a family member or trusted friend. We know that people with eating disorders can struggle with the concept and feeling of uncertainty – the more you can plan ahead, the less uncertainty there’ll be.
5) Perspective is power! Christmas is about so much more than food, shift the focus on something positive
For many, Christmas is about coming together and connecting with our loved ones. Whilst food is often centre stage at social celebrations at Christmas, how we experience these times comes down to our perspective. What else can you focus on?