Are you someone who is struggling with an eating disorder? Maybe you are someone who feel more vulnerable around the Thanksgiving Holiday? This post describes healthy tips and coping skills to get through the Holiday and enjoy it with family and friends. It’s about finding a plan to cope ahead, and then being in the moment. Remember these tips when Turkey Day approaches. It’s about having what you need where you need it. Read through these ten tips and practice being aware of your needs! The holidays are a stressful time of year for many but they can also be joyful.
You’re not alone!
Remember you are not, just because people don’t’ share their fears, they still have them. Many struggle with food, weight, diets and body image.. Family and friends also have challenges, they may be different or similar. Remember that we are flawed all of us human beings and we can be kind to ourselves and each other. Be compassionate, you are one person and you are doing the best you can! Try and find someone to connect with that day. Maybe a friend on the phone, a neighbor or a family member who you feel safe sharing.
NO Diet Talk!
Everyone around the table may make comments like this:
I shouldn’t stuff myself but I have been good all week!”
“I really can indulge now and eat the pie, I deserve to have it because I haven’t had dessert at all lately!”
“I really have been good on my diet so I should stick to it especially with all this food!”
Whatever you hear, it maybe be really triggering to you. If you know what is triggering to you like hearing this type of comment. Change the subject! Ask to pass the water or the hot tea. Try and make a change. You are responsible for your internal world, not the people around you. They are either not aware of your struggles or maybe need a lot of reminding. Just change the scene or if you feel you can, ask that we focus the conversation to what people are feeling grateful for this year.
Dieting is based on the misconception that food has a moral value. You probably have heard someone say something like, ‘I’ve been good all day. Now I’m going to be bad and eat a slice of pumpkin pie.’ But eating pie is not a ‘bad’ thing to do. Food does not have a moral value. Food is just food.”—Jenni Schaefer, singer, songwriter and author of Life Without ED
Take time for yourself!
You may find that seeing family or friends from over the year is challenging and exciting. With all of those feelings there, make sure you have a cope ahead plan.
Here are some strategies to use while at the table or around the event:
- Hold something very hot or cold (a mug at the table or a water glass with ice)
- Pet a dog or cat or animal, they are very healing
- Go out and get a fresh air break and breathe in slowly
- Count the colors in the room to distract yourself if you are struggling with food.
- Focus on what you are thankful for this year and always
- Invite others into a conversation about gratitude and thankfulness for the year.
- Bring a lavender bag or good smelling small item to bring in your bag or pocket
- Use a brief walk mindfully.
- Practice deep breaths and say : This is one meal, like any other
Check in with supports!
With the holiday season approaching it’s important to speak with those that support your recovery journey and know that you are doing the best you can. Try and invite in good honest conversation about what you are dealing with and how you need support. This could be a side conversation for five minutes with a family member or a phone call to speak with a friend who is also in recovery. Check in with yourself. Where am I feeling stress? Are there people here that I have a hard time with? Can I really set those things aside and try to practice keeping myself internally calm?
Check in with your body!
Often times we walk around with our heads! Our whole body experiences emotion and distress and all the other feelings like joy, happiness and ease.
What is your body telling you?
Am I tense anywhere in my body?
Feeling heaviness in my chest or hot flash?
Do I feel angry or frustrated in my shoulders?
What is my body telling me that I need to do?
Awareness of what information your body may be sending could be a good time to check in above, identify triggers and make a plan. Sometimes you may not know all the signs and signals, but if you tune in often enough you can learn what to avoid.
Check back for more blogs this holiday season. Take care of you, it’s your best way to be happy!
Please visit MCC’s website and MCC’s Facebook page for more information and future blog posts around dealing with the holidiays.
About the Author: Jen Rego, LICSW is a licensed independent clinical social worker with a strong background in mental health field. Jen has extensive experience in crisis work, Eating Disorders, Anxiety and complex relationships. While working for Walden Behavioral Care, LLC, Jen developed an anger management group in the program specifically for eating disorders and has developed a growing private practice in Framingham, MA. She provides individual and family counseling and runs groups in the community. Jen also provides other dynamic services: assessments, supervision for new clinicians, and other mental health resources. She also writes blogs and provides education and speaking engagements to help educate the community and outreach to people who struggle and those who support them. She enjoys helping clients to find their voice, strengthen their self-concept and become advocates in their own lives. Jen is passionate about creating positive body image among women and men of all ages and helping to access ones inner strength.