The countdown to the holiday season has arrived. For some this is a really exciting time of year and for others it can bring about quite a bit of anxiety. Whatever your feelings are about this season, one thing we know for sure is that it is filled with lots of socializing and eating. Here are a few things I recommend you do to make the holidays more merry and less stressful.
- Pick Your Events Wisely: I think one of the most important things you can do around the holidays is focus on self care and the things you need to make the holidays a success for you. There likely will be many different things going on that can suck a lot of energy and leave you feeling less than festive when Christmas finally does arrive. Instead of saying yes to everything, sit down and look at your calendar and decide what you really want to do vs what you are telling yourself you have to do. It is not only okay, but actually important to say no to some things, especially if you find them triggering to your eating disorder. Because saying no can be challenging for many of us, I recommend that people create a Wish-Want-Walk list. What do you Wish you could do over the holidays, what do you Want to do, and what do you need and/or want to Walk away from. If something is on your walk list, try to dig deep and give yourself permission to either change your plans or to decline when asked. For the things on your Want list, pick the ones you most love (if there are options that overlap) and commit to those. For the things on your wish list, see if you can make at least ¼ of them a reality. Those are the things that will add the most joy to your holiday season.
- Choose Your Three Favourite Foods: We can’t get around the fact that the holidays are typically centered around food. Instead of focusing on all the options, narrow it down to your three favourites. If you have a tendency to binge on food, picking your favourites means you are intentionally creating awareness around what you want instead of simply consuming what is available. If you restrict, picking your 3 favourites can both challenge you to try some of the foods you might not eat regularly and also will allow you to pick some safe foods to focus on when the variety and amount of food feels overwhelming.
- Set Some Goals: The holidays are about connecting not just with others but also with yourself. It is a time when we can reflect on the positive steps we have taken over the year and the steps we want to take as we get ready for the next. When someone struggles with an eating disorder, it can be a time that is also quite overwhelming. Be kind to yourself and set some time aside to write down 3 goals you have for the holiday season. These goals can be food based (I want to challenge myself to eat Christmas dinner with my family, or to getting through one dinner without bingeing etc) but I also think it is important to set some goals around what would be supportive to you around the holidays. Because of all the emotion and stress the holidays can bring up, self care is even more critical. Listen to what you really need and make that a priority for yourself.
Wishing you warmth and wellbeing this entire holiday season.