Christmas can be a very stressful period for people full stop but if you are struggling with an eating disorder it can be particularity challenging. The build-up to Christmas and the New Year, changes in routine, Christmas parties, and talk about food and drink can bring up feelings of despair. However, with the right mindset you can overcome the stress of it all.
Below are tips not just to survive Christmas but also to really enjoy it.
- An eating disorder can isolate you from family and friends, be mindful of this and stay in touch with people who love and empower you.Christmas and the New Year are not only about food but also about spending quality time with loved ones.
- Be aware of your thought patterns over the holidays that can create unrealistic expectations. Do your best not to put too much pressure on yourself and others. Meditate for 5 – 10 minutes per day to quieten your inner critic. Get out in nature and take a gentle walk. The crisp fresh air will help to change your outlook.
- Christmas movies. Who doesn’t love a Christmas movie or two? Make time to enjoy what the Christmas period has to offer. Watching a good movie is a great way to embrace the Christmas period and if you can enjoy it with family and friends, even better.
- Do your best to allow for some flexibility around the season. You may need to sit down with family and friends and plan your meals. Ask for help with this. If you really want to eat a certain food, allow yourself to have it.
- If you are working with a Therapist already, you should be eating your 6 meals, which include your 3 snacks. Stick to this, the Eating Disorder mindset may try to pull you away from it, but stay mindful. And remember, Christmas day is only one day in 365.
- Be of service. Sometimes the best way to overcome our own struggles is to help someone else. Think of things you can do for others and yet not put yourself under too much stress. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
- Stay present as much as possible over the holiday period. This will help to reduce your anxiety. Talk to your therapist or a good friend about any concerns you have about the up and coming Christmas and New Year period.
- Think back to past events, which involved food. Apply the wellness tools you used to overcome it and apply them to the Christmas period.
- Acknowledge how you are feeling at this time of the year and have a conversation with someone who supports you. If this isn’t available, reach out and ask for help. It may help to write down all your concerns in a diary.
- Post-Christmas can be stressful with the focus on diets and New Year resolutions. Plan your own 2020 by starting to do up a vision board.
“A vision board is a collage of images, pictures, and affirmations of one's dreams and desires. It is designed to serve as a source of inspiration and motivation.”
- If you are that person who always says ‘No’ to new experiences, allow yourself to say ‘Yes’. In turn, if you are that person who always says ‘Yes’ and puts themselves under too much pressure, allow yourself to say ‘No’.
Christmas tips for family and friends who are supporting someone through an Eating Disorder
- Have a conversation about Christmas.
- Ask them what their fears are.
- Acknowledge what they are feeling and listen to what they have to say.
- Avoid all diet talk and be aware of how you are talking about your relationship with food and your own body.
- How can you help them with their fears?
- Help them to stay present and mindful over the holidays.
- Talk to them about the structure of Christmas day. Get them involved in the shopping and cooking experience if possible.
- Focus on the positives of the season (Family, Friends)
- Get out and try new Christmas activities with them, e.g. ice-skating and carolling.
- Have as much structure as possible around the season.
- Remind them that recovery is possible.
- Keep to their eating structure (6 meals which includes 3 snacks).
- Make sure you the carer are also looking after your own self-care. Ask for help if you need it.