The holiday season can be a joyous time of year with social celebrations and spending time with loved ones. It can also be the most stressful if you are struggling with low self-esteem, body image issues and disordered eating. When you become faced with an abundance of food, alcohol, and social events it is important to keep the following in mind to help alleviate your stress and maintain your recovery when struggling with an eating disorder.
Have a Plan
Establish a plan for the holidays that emphasize self-care, social connection, and prepares you for high risk situations, peoples, places, and things that may trigger disorder eating. Identify your triggers and healthy coping options that you’ll use to manage stress.
Be Gentle with Yourself
If you relapse on disordered eating behaviour and negative self-talk it is essential to be gentle with yourself and to not fall in to self criticism and feelings of shame and guilt. You must remember that your goal is not to be perfect it is to engage in healthy eating behaviours that respect and honour your body and mind. If a relapse occurs focus on changing your perspective from beating yourself up to gaining self awareness, utilizing your support system, and treating yourself with greater self care.
Focus on what you Value
Try focusing on the “bigger picture” of developing connection with self and others, finding moments to enjoy and things to be grateful for, rather then focusing on how you are not “good enough” and what you “should” be doing. By cultivating gratitude about what you value during this time shifts the focus from what you do not have and comparing yourself to others triggering you to feel less then to self approval. Turn your focus away from food obsession and compulsive exercise to finding things that encourage self value.
Focus on your Self Care
During times of increased stress it is even more essential to engage in self-care daily. Having a list of self care options can be helpful so that you are not feeling overwhelmed with another thing on your “to do” list. Avoid over scheduling yourself and be realistic about what you can manage.
Focus on Connection vs. Isolation
When you struggle with low self esteem and eating disordered behaviour you tend to narrow your world, by separating yourself from the people in your life and engaging in self destructive behaviours in order to manage being around people. Avoid isolating behaviours and remain connected with people. You may wish to create a list of healthy ways of connecting with others and maintaining healthy relationship boundaries, as not all social events will be positive experiences. Surround yourself with people who have healthy relationships with their bodies and food.
If you find yourself struggling during the holiday season to remain active in your recovery it is essential to reach out to your support system. If you are new to recovery and are recognizing that you no longer wish to engage in self destructive behaviours, give me a call and I can help you become reconnected to treating your self with love and respect. Wishing you all the best over the holiday seasons.
Heather Kempton, MA, RCC, Life Coach
Optimal Life Therapy