As I sit down to blog this week the Christmas music is playing in the background and I am drinking a fantastic lemongrass ginger tea. What are you sipping on this cold winter morning? I am reusing a post from last year at this time because I have been asked a lot this past week in my Vancouver counselling practice how people can navigate the holidays successfully and this post last year covered some simple, easy to use guidelines.
The holiday season truly is one of my favorite times of the year but I also remember how hard it used to be when I still struggled with my eating disorder. So with that in mind I am going to recommend a few things that may help you through the holidays. Some of these will pertain to emotional eaters and or binge eaters while others will be more tailored to those who restrict.
- Know Your Must Haves: Usually at this time of year we find ourselves grazing (or guzzling) foods that we may not normally eat. There is chocolate and baking around every corner and we can often end up eating it not because we really want it but rather because it is there. Instead of spending the entire month unconsciously eating and then beating yourself up about it afterwards try going in with a different approach. Become aware of your holiday favorites and give yourself permission to enjoy them when they are out. You want to know what they are beforehand so that you can make a conscious decision about what you will enjoy and what you will leave. This season is about taking part in traditions and enjoying all the season has to offer. If you try to prevent yourself from enjoying the things you love you are more likely to binge and feel out of control.
- Challenge Yourself To One Success: If you restrict, the holidays can also be hard because everything is based around food and it can send your anxiety over the top. The unfortunate part is it can make an otherwise enjoyable event rather painful and can make you feel disconnected from things you care about. Instead of overwhelming yourself with all you feel you should be doing pick the one thing you want to be successful at and let yourself off the hook for the rest. I am sure there are lots to choose from but if you try to do too many things you are more likely to end up doing none and restricting more. So maybe it’s your staff potluck that you want to attend and try eating at. Or perhaps its baking cookies with your mom like you did when you were a kid and actually allowing yourself to enjoy a cookie this year. Whatever it is, invest your energy into one thing and then congratulate yourself when you are successful.
- Know what is good for you and what sets you off. Unfortunately the holidays aren’t always as cozy and happy as we would like so now is a good time to become aware of your triggers and the things that ground and uplift you. Awareness can be your best friend at this time of year if you actually invest in acting upon that awareness. For your triggers, avoid them as much as you possibly can. You are allowed to say No, so say no as often as you can. For the things you can’t get out of, you want to work in as many of your grounding and uplifting pieces as possible, with hopes that this will decrease the punishment you put yourself through by bingeing, purging or restricting.
- Find time for self care: The holiday season is busy and it doesn’t take much to check out from ourselves and what we need right now. Try to start each day by asking yourself what you need from the day and what you are going to do to meet that need. Remember it is okay to put yourself first sometimes and making yourself a priority models to others (especially kids if you have them!) that taking care of yourself is a healthy and important thing to do. Sacrificing yourself only leaves you feeling empty and makes it hard to find joy in all the wonderful things about this season. Find a way to give back to yourself by treating yourself to some extra self-care this holiday season!
Wishing you a magical month!