November 21, 2012 Heather Purdin

Surviving the Holidays

The holiday season greets some of us with a reliable drum of joy, excitement, and cheer. For others of us, the holidays ignite a less desired sense of anxiety, grief, or even dread – at least on occasion. When struggling with eating concerns, the fact that many holiday gatherings revolve around food can create extra challenges.

Here is light-hearted video created by the founders of Project HEAL packed full of practical and applicable tips for cruising through the holidays in recovery style. enJOY.

THUMBS UP! TIPS FOR NEGOTIATING THE HOLIDAYS

Eating Disorder Issues

1. Give yourself the gift of leaving ED at the door! Take a break from all of the rules and limitations you have set for yourself.

2. Recovery is the only choice worth choosing this year. If you can continue implementing healthy decisions, just imagine where you could be this time next year.

3. Occupy yourself with festive activities so there isn't space for the eating disorder to occupy you. Play a game. Get out of the house. Go outside. Make presents for those you love. What is better than a homemade gift, anyway?

Food Issues

1. Be honest about where you are in recovery and Identify your triggers ahead of time.

2. If you are just beginning recovery, be prepared w/ a plan when attending food functions.

3. If you are further down the recovery path, allow yourself to be spontaneous. Try something you haven't enjoyed in a long time, especially if it is seasonal like homemade pie or eggnog (I especially enjoy eggnog-hogging J!).

4. Restricting increases anxiety. Give your brain a fighting chance for peace of mind (aka sanity!). Think nourishment.

5. You are allowed to enjoy your food. It's OK to eat a bit more than usual. Remember, it's just one meal.

Body Image Issues

1. Dress comfortably. This is probably not the day to wear your tightest jeans.

2. Wear something that helps to boost your confidence. Confidence is the most attractive style of all.

3. If someone makes a comment about your appearance (i.e. "You look so healthy!"), remember that most of the time people are coming from a place of positive intention and encouragement.

Relative Issues

1. It's a wonderful loving time. Open up to others and hear their stories too!

2. Declare the table a fat-talk free zone with friends and family ahead of time.

3. Have at least one person who can be available for a supportive phone call if needed.

4. Pay it forward: Do something for others...Adopt an angel tree kid. Visit a nursing home or adult care program and make crafts. Contact your local soup kitchen and offer to help prepare and serve food this year.

5. If the holidays are associated with grief/loss, take a moment to honor and celebrate someone you may be missing. It is OK to enjoy the holidays without guilt. Include their spirit in whatever you do.

6. Start a new tradition. You will have something new to look forward and associate with the season.

Mood Issues

1. Keep some structure! Whether you will be out of classes or have extended time off from work, keeping some sense of structure can help combat mood shifts.

2. What are you looking forward to this holiday season? Are you taking a vacation? Maybe you will see someone you love and adore. Is there a special event you are attending? Healthy anticipation can help shift your mood when low.

3. Adopt an attitude of gratitude. Everything does not have to be perfect to be able to appreciate that which is good in life. It is easy enough to identify what is missing, wrong, or problematic.  I purposefully walk around giving thanks for what I do have, especially if my mood is funky (and it helps immensely).

4. Celebrate your life at the end of the day. If you can conquer holidays, you can conquer any day!