As the holiday season approaches, consider these 5 keys to surviving holidays with an eating disorder. The holidays alone can feel overwhelming, but that stress is magnified when you’re struggling with an eating disorder. These 5 keys, in reverse order of importance, will make navigating the season more enjoyable and manageable.
1) Shift your focus.
What you FOCUS on, you FEEL. Shift your focus away from the eating disorder and towards something that will make you feel good.
Music? Maybe a particular person or tradition? If nothing’s got you super revved up about Thanksgiving, schedule a call with a good friend that day or take a 15 minute breather to do some light stretches or breath work during the festivities. Don’t feel bad about taking a few minutes to yourself to get your head in the right place.
2) Change your physiology.
Before you host or go to the host’s home, shift your state, your physiology. This can be done in a number of ways, but the idea is to get OUT of your head.
The best way to stop overthinking, is to MOVE your body. Try singing your favorite song, dancing, a few jumping jacks or some breath work. And, do this right before you leave – you will feel energized and refreshed.
Don’t wait to eat until it’s time for the festivities. A secret I share with clients (one many have had success with) is to eat a small meal before you go. Then, the food that’s out will not seem so overwhelming and you won’t feel so frazzled. Before the holiday, think about a filling snack you might prepare and eat before hand.
Also, dress for comfort and for YOU. Not for anyone else. There’s nothing worse than tugging at your clothes or constantly adjusting your top. Find something that allows you to move and easily focus on Key #4.
Holidays can feel overwhelming for anyone, but holidays with an eating disorder is magnified. As a result, you feel like no one is sensitive to your needs and with a major focus on food, you feel triggered often and like people are judging you. Prepare in advance by giving your loved ones tips on how to best support you. Consider sending them this: how to support loved ones with eating disorders.
Similar to Key #2, get out of your head by doing. Help out in any way you can. Do the dishes or clean up. Serve others and ask how they are doing. Try being genuinely curious – everyone has something they’re struggling with or something they want to open up about. Be there and be present.
The most important key of all to holidays with an eating disorder is gratitude. What can you choose to be grateful for?
Gratitude is an antidote for suffering. For example, when you’re feeling down or like no one understands, quickly jot down three things you’re grateful for in that moment. It could be as simple as having a roof over your head or having a place to go during the holidays. Start to notice what shifts for you because there is actual science to back up a gratitude practice!
The holidays are a special time to be around loved ones. Surviving the holidays with an eating disorder shouldn’t be the goal; enjoying the holidays is what you seek. Find opportunities to feel joy and seek gratitude.
For more tips on holidays with an eating disorder, read this one full of helpful tips you can implement right away!