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tips for the holidays

Posted Dec 19 2010 1:57am

Well, that so many people are struggling during the holidays is the exact reason I haven't been finding the time to write to you guys. Clearly, Leanonme, you are not alone!

I've always found that the most difficult period of the year for those who suffer from eating disorders (and often also for those who care about them) is from Halloween through mid-January.

This is the time of year when it is darker outside (which can make people feel vulnerable and/or affect mood in an adverse way), there are lots of events and schedule changes, lots of food-type holidays, and lots of social/family things (or the opposite- lack of social things, which leads to loneliness and/or depression).

There are a few things I've found helpful- so here's a little list :)

1. remember the holiday season is time limited- it does end

2. stay connected!!!!! whatever that means to you, make sure you take steps to stay in touch with those people, animals, things, activities, etc that are important to you and that sustain you

3. plan for what you can, but avoid being rigid about your plans. it is good to have a "skeletal" plan for an event (what time you'll get there, what you'll wear, who you'll know, what food might be served, what restaurant the event is at....), but also be aware of, and leave room in your planning for, unanticipated things (traffic on the way to the event, different kinds of food that what you'd expected, your ride there suddenly decides he/she wants to stay a lot longer than you do...)

4. plan for "down time" before, during and after events, as well as during and after the holidays. rest some (in whatever way you like to rest) earlier in the day before an event. take a few minutes at an event and go outside for some air, or go hang out in the restroom just for a bit of quiet. the day after an event, rest some more, or spend some quiet time with yourself. think of ways you can rest and regroup in January

5. be realistic about what you can and can't do. you may want or need to say no to some offers or to make modifications in scheduling or traditions (yes, that's really ok to do!!)

6. look for meaning in ways that are unique to you. don't be hypnotized by the myths surrounding the holidays- about what they "should" be or what they "should" include. there are lots of fantasies about how the holidays should be "done correctly." don't be fooled by these fantasies. try to develop your own version of how to celebrate (or whether to celebrate) and find ways to cherish what's important to you. it SO doesn't matter what anyone may think of how you do your holiday season- it only matters that you try to create something that's meaningful to you.

This isn't an exhaustive list, of course, and anyone can add on to it. Most of all, remember that we're all in this together. Not just around the holidays, but throughout the year. 

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