As joyous as the Holiday Season is, it can also be overwhelming. There are many things that need to be coordinated and sorted out, family members that can cause stress and a lot of socializing that can be draining. For someone in eating disorder recovery, Holiday Season can be particularly overwhelming because eating disorders don't take days off. It's a continuous battle every day, especially in early recovery, and I'm here to give you a few tips to stay on track.
Don't slack on self-care! Keeping up with your self-care is extremely important in defeating that eating disorder voice. Taking the time to care for yourself by doing things you enjoy, things that keep you calm & give peace, as well as, things that help you recharge are especially needed during holiday season. Keep giving back to your relationship with yourself, just as you give to your loved ones this year.
It can be hard to stick to a routine during the holidays. We typically get days off from work or school or at the very least modified hours and it can be super tempting to go along with the chaos of holiday scheduling. However, routine breeds consistency and consistency allows you to continue on the path to recovery. Defeating an eating disorder requires consistency with meal times, therapy times, self-care times and everything in between, so continue to work with your routine to the best of your abilities.
3. Support System
Seek out your people! Remember, to keep reaching out to the people in your life who are supportive, understanding and loving. Reaching out to supports about things that may be triggering this holiday season will help you feel less alone and feel that someone has your back. It's a good time to brainstorm on what might be helpful. This is especially something to speak about with your treatment team.
Discuss the holidays with your treatment team and loved ones! Talking about Holiday food and stress is the perfect thing to speak to your treatment team about. You can plan meals with your dietitian, coping tools and strategies with your therapist and loop in your loved ones so they know how to best support you this year. There are free eating disorder support groups as well, if you are not in any type of program, and I'm sure the holidays are a huge topic to receive support around!
Advocate for yourself! Please share what you need with friends and loved ones this holiday season. Whether it's about triggering conversations around food and weight, needing to take a break in the middle of dinner, or needing to set boundaries around certain family members, advocating is the way to keep you and your recovery safe.
6. Reflect On The Meaning of the Holidays
Don't only think about the food and stress. If things become overwhelming and feel that you are spiraling a bit: shift your focus. Take a step back and reflect on what the holidays mean for you and your loved ones, look at how far you have come in eating disorder recovery and keep pushing to get to your goals. Take a break, take deep breaths and just reflect.
7. Set up a Consultation with an Eating Disorder Therapist
If you do not have one already, seek out an eating disorder therapist that can help you to begin your recovery process. Experienced therapists that can give you the support you need and create a safe space which will bring you to a better understanding of your eating disorder and recovery. One step at a time.
This by all means isn't a comprehensive list of the things to do to help you feel a bit better about going into the holidays, but it's a start! Definitely take this list, chat with your treatment team and support system and create a plan that's best for you! Have faith in yourself and your ability to handle this Holiday Season. The Holidays are about giving, so please give back to yourself and reach out for help if you are struggling. You are worthy, you are loved and you deserve help. Happy Holidays!
Stephanie Polizzi is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) working at Peaceful Living Mental Health Counseling in Westchester County, NY.
Stephanie specializes in working with children, teens and adults struggling with eating disorders, anxiety, trauma, behavioral challenges, and life transitions.
Stephanie is a trained Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapist at a trauma-informed practice. She uses a combination of EMDR, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and other modalities when working with clients.
Stephanie is available on weekdays, & evenings Monday-Friday, in our Scarsdale office or via Telehealth for video counseling sessions.