Is it true that the holidays are hard on everyone? Does anyone else get sweaty thinking about traveling, consuming meal after meal labored in love, too much socialization and spending money? Ok, good, I am glad I am not the only one. I can say there was a time when holidays, especially the meals centered around them, were not easy for me. It is amazing what 5 years of growth and recovery can do. I am a recovered bulimic and have found the following tools helpful in my recovery, especially when it comes to the 2.5 month stretch of the holiday season.
Tips for surviving (and enjoying!) the holidays when you are recovering from an eating disorder:
1. Lean on your people
Share your initial feelings with someone who knows how to help you. Every year I tell my husband, in August, my anxieties about that November dinner. By the time September rolls around, I feel more settled about the thoughts and actually get excited for planning a menu. Maybe you will need to leave the table, take someone with you and talk it out. In that moment, do not fall back to old coping skills, stick with it.
2. Recognize your triggers and be mindful about your behaviors
This is the biggest one for me. No skipping meals in the days leading up to a big event, no food sorting, no calorie calculating. Realize when you are having an E.D. thought and retaliate with your recovery skills.
3. Use sticky note mantras
In the kitchen, on the mirrors, the back of the toilet. Wherever you will see them and take them to heart. “You are beautiful.” “Eat to live, do not live to eat.” “Keep going.”
4. Avoid negative food/body talk
Ask those around you to do the same. How often do you hear: “Oh, I really shouldn’t have another” “There goes my diet! I have been so bad.” “My waistline is really going to pay for this”…etc. While a non-disordered eater may be able to think and say those things and not take them to action, if you are actively pursuing recovery from your E.D. this type of talk can stop your progress in its tracks.
5. Schedule with your therapist
If you are not able to get the help you need from your support circle and skills alone, please call and schedule a session. No matter how many years you have been recovered, there is no shame in needing to reach out to a professional. You may not think that relapse is an option, but taking extras steps when it’s needed is the best thing you can do for yourself.
While writing these tips, I was forced to take a look at my own self-care routine. You can find more about that, here. The holidays are meant to be about family and peace. Surround yourself with loved ones and do not go to battle with yourself over the many meals that will be enjoyed. Each year it gets easier. Keep going!
Our family photo from Christmas 2014
*Originally posted November 23, 2015*