Sometimes, Christmas isn’t the “most wonderful time of the year”. Especially for individuals and their families in eating disorder recovery. With this in mind, we turned to our clients and Orri community for their tips and guidance on how thrive in recovery this festive season.
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.
Sometimes it’s not just about surviving Christmas, but thriving. Below are words of encouragement and wisdom from those who have been there…
Speak what is in your head aloud
“Speak what’s in your head aloud! Have an active conversation between your rational self and the eating disorder, it’s so easy when it’s in your head to confuse a disordered thought with what’s truly your own thinking, if you need help with this use others around you to help decipher if the fear or thought is rational or the eating disorder.
The more you are able to recognise these thoughts and label them as the disorder, the easier it becomes to recognise them quicker in the future, label them as ‘this is my disorder talking’ and go against them! The more you try to disassociate your healthy self from your illness mechanically at the start, the easier it comes over time! Recovery might feel like this huge mountain that is impossible to conquer but you can do it, it’s a slow step at a time and then you become more steady and find you can start to stride.”
Remember your courage
“When Christmas feels tough, remember you are brave. Remember what you can hold onto and what you hope for the new year.”
Grant yourself understanding and compassion
“Be patient with yourself. Plan in advance and put in fun distractions. Know it is okay to take time out.“
Maintain perspective and look to the future
“One of my favourite tips I was told during my time at Orri, which doesn’t only apply to Christmas but definitely can, is to think of what you want to be doing in the future. For example, do you want to be able to sit around the table laughing about Christmas crackers and having Christmas dinner in the future? Then do it this year. Do you want to be able to relax in front of the TV with your family, watching a Christmas movie next year? Then do it this year.”
Enjoy and make memories
“You won’t remember the food you ate when you’re older, but you will remember the memories made.”
It is a difficult time, so be kind!
“Take each day as it comes and try to be kind and patient to yourself. It’s a difficult time.”
Carve out time for self-care
“Over the break, it is normal for routines to get disrupted. Making sure you have some alone time can provide a sense of structure to part of your day, and relief from socialising with family and friends. For me, I like going out first thing in the morning. Listening to a podcast whilst going for a short, relaxed walk in the winter sun, can provide some calm during the busy period and time to focus on the present. Otherwise, taking a bath followed by some journalling can help me sleep if I feel overwhelmed by the events of the day. Either are good at lifting some of the anxiety and stress off my shoulders. Then I am free to enjoy the holiday season and focus on recovery.”
You can do this!
“To someone struggling this time of year, I’d say: when Christmas feels tough, remember you are too!”
We appreciate the honesty and support from this special eating disorder community. We hope reading their recovery reminders brings you hope for Christmas.
An event for you, coming up!
In our free webinar on the 12th December, Orri’s multi-disciplinary team will come together to explore how to thrive in eating disorder recovery over the festive period. With specialist representation of our Dietetics, Occupational Therapy and Nursing teams.
Together, they’ll provide specialist practical tips for those in recovery and families. Joined by eating disorder and mental health campaigner and author, Cara Lisette.
Themes will include:
- How to plan ahead for the season and festivities
- How to cope with socialising and social eating
- How to prepare and navigate challenging “diet” talk
- How to ground yourself during moments of distress
- Dealing with downtime
- Giving and receiving presents
This event may be particularly useful for experts by experience, families and carers, university students or anyone who finds Christmas a difficult time of year. Register to attend here.
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