Further Tips for a No-Stress Season
A couple of weeks ago, we outlined a plan for handling some of the food-related issues that can arise during the holidays for those of us who struggle with eating disorders. However, the stress of the season does not start and end with the buffet table. For many of us in recovery, much of the seasonal anxiety we experience stems from returning to old haunts and getting out of our daily routines. Another source of tension may be reconnecting with family and friends we haven’t seen in some time. While both of these are common, they don’t need to ruin your holidays or the progress you’ve made. A no-stress holiday season can be had with some careful planning, by setting firm boundaries, and adhering to the self-care you’ve learned in treatment.
Stick to the Plan
First, you’ll want to predict high-stress times and places and plan accordingly. You might be rolling your eyes at this point and saying to yourself, “High-stress times? It’s the holidays…it’s ALL high stress!” Take a deep breath and bear with me here. First of all, you’re on vacation just like everyone else. The purpose of a vacation is to relax and recharge. With that in mind, remember that you don’t have to say yes to everything. Plan which events you want to attend and be sure to schedule some downtime for yourself while you’re at it. Consider, perhaps, a movie, a massage, or buying yourself a present. You may also want to consider doing some volunteer work over the break. The holidays can bring up overwhelming feelings of loneliness, emptiness, or pain for many and service work is a great remedy.
Polite, but Firm
This one can be a little trickier. You’ll probably have a number of people who are going to want to spend time with you while you’re home. However, some of them might not be on the same page as you concerning your recovery. In this case (in all cases, actually), it’s helpful to remember that we’re all on different points on the path, coming from different places, and headed in different directions. For example, when my grandma comments on my weight and hounds me to load up a second plate, I know she’s coming from a place of love. And I know that I’m coming from a place of (self-)love when I respond, “Thanks for your concern, but I won’t get into a debate about my weight. Please leave it up to me to decide how many helpings I eat.” Planning verbal responses in advance and asking that people not comment on your body, appearance, or eating habits isn’t rudeness. It’s setting firm boundaries essential to your well-being.
Flip the Script
Comments like “You’re getting too skinny…you need to eat more,” while popular among grandmas everywhere, have a way of worming into our brains and starting that cycle of negative self-talk. This is where those tools learned in treatment come in handy. First, remind yourself that you are a worthy individual and entitled to respectful behavior. Next, get out your journal and write those negative thoughts out. For each one, write a positive alternative. For example, if your negative thought is something along the lines of, “She gave me a bigger gift than I gave her…she must think I’m cheap,” follow it with “People understand that I can’t afford expensive gifts and I give thought to what they would enjoy.” And compliment yourself on your proactive actions! It may be difficult, but it helps you to focus on the progress you’ve been making.
By following a few simple steps, you can enjoy the holidays as they are meant to be enjoyed. Instead of spending your time worrying about the stress to come, use that time and energy to plan ahead, stick to the tools you’ve learned, and remember how far you’ve come. If you struggle with eating issues and some of these things are new to you, you may want to consider talking to a counselor or seeking treatment. Call Ocean Recovery today at (855)404-2718.