Christmastime is here! If you are like me, I love the holiday season! I love the warm clothes, hot chocolate (for me, an espresso!), holiday lights and decorations, time off work, baking cookies, and of course the joy of gift-giving (and receiving, am I right!?). However, the holidays can be a very stressful time! Holidays can be stressful for many reasons. It is hard financially to budget for gifts when you still have the same expenses you have each month. It can be difficult just spending time with family. Holidays may bring special memories of loved ones that are no longer with you. Holidays can be lonely, even if you are not alone. We often get wrapped up (no pun intended) in the hustle and bustle of finding the perfect gifts in preparation for the big day(s), we forget what the holidays are truly about! This may mean spending time with loved ones, celebrating life, giving thanks, contributing back to those less fortunate, and for many, celebrating a religious holiday.
Holidays can be particularly challenging if you are struggling, in recovery, or in treatment for an eating disorder. The above-mentioned stressors still apply, in addition to the emphasis of food surrounding holidays. Meals are often a time to gather around the table and connect with one another. At least, that is the intention, or what I hope it to be, of having meals with loved ones. However, this is often not the case if you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder. The emphasis of food can cause holidays to be stressful just in the fact that you may have to eat in front of others or that it is a meal “out of the norm”. Remember, it is okay to over-indulge or have an extra Christmas cookie because you want one! In addition, you may not be in the place to eat intuitively or have “extra” and that is okay too. Plate your meal like you would any other meal ensuring you are making a meal plan. Acknowledge beforehand that you may be triggered by food, food talk, diet talk, or family members in general; however, it does not have to dictate your appetite or your day in general! You deserve to have a memorable holiday. Here are some tips to enjoying the holidays without (too much) stress!
First, identify what the holidays mean to you and what you find is important. Take steps to be intentional about how you would like to enjoy the holidays. Second, practice being present in the moment. Often the holidays come and go so quickly that we forget to enjoy each moment. Third, manage your time and expectations. You may have multiple events to attend or families/friends to celebrate with that can cause even more added stress. Remember to take time for yourself and reflect on step one of “what is most important to me in giving this holiday meaning”. You are allowed to say “no” to social events and not feel guilty. Which brings me to my last tip: take care of you! If you are struggling with an eating disorder or in recovery (or not), talk with someone who can support you. We all deserve a holiday filled with laughter and joy.