November 2009 Archive
Thanksgiving (and the holidays) can bring many stressors, as identified in recent posts. There is a demand on our time, increase in social and family gatherings, an abudance of food and financial stress. At times we got lost in these many demands and the hustle and bustle and lose sight of what we are celebrating.
At Thanksgiving, it is a particularly salient time to stop and recognize the many things we can be grateful for in our lives. These things can be big and small.
Take the time to write a gratitude list today. List whatever it is (people, things, feelings, events, pets, memories, etc) that you are especially thankful for. Place this list some place special for you and reflect on it in times of need. It can help put things in perspective when you are having a bad day or the eating disorder voices appear particularly loud.
In the previous blog post, I discussed the importance of approaching the holidays in a prepared way by planning out your food ahead of time, establishing and communicating boundaries. We all know you can not always be prepared for what may happen. We certainly can not control other people. A big part of recovery from an eating disorder and a helpful strategy to hold onto during the busy holiday season is teasing out what you can control and what you can’t. By approaching holiday outings with stratgies and an action plan you are providing yourself with a sense of control.
For those times that something stressful pops up that you had not anticipated- an unexpected comment from a family member, a triggering conversation, a feared food, have an important person on standby. Express your worries and concerns in advance to your “person.” Deterimine a signal in advance that you can give them if you need help. This way they can change the conversation, have you step away or intercept in some way that will help.
This is the first post in a series about developing strategies to manage your eating disorder over the holidays. As we ALL know, the holidays can be a wonderful, joyful time filled with family and friends. However, holidays are often a stressful time. There is a lot of focus on food, an overabundance of food and many social activities that can be overwhelming or bring up memories of the past.
The first and possibly most important tip for navigating the holidays and eating disorder recovery is: PLAN AHEAD
- If possible, communicate your comfort level with family and friends before events. Ask people not to make comments about your food choices, appearance or weight.
- Stick to your meal plan as much as you can while at social activities. This can help you maintain a sense of normalcy during a busy time.
- Bring a dish to share. This way you know there will be at least one food at the event that feels safe and comfortable for you.
- Try to identify potential difficult areas before the events. Talk them over wih your therapist or a friend. Identify ways of responding or coping ahead of time so you feel prepared.
- Review available food when you arrive at the event. Make a plan in your head about what you will eat. Stick to that plan.
The key here is thinking ahead. Identifying what works for you and honoring that. A change of schedule and overabundance does not mean you will lose control. Take the time to identify triggers and think through your responses. This way, you will arrive knowing how you would like to respond and best care for you.
Comments? Questions? Stories of holiday survival success? Please share. More tips to come!
The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone. However, it can be even tougher to navigate the numerous outings with family and friends (always involving food!) when struggling with an eating disorder.
The next few blog posts will identify ways of dealing with the holiday stress and managing your eating disorder. However, I would like to hear specific questions or dilemmas about this stressful time from you first, please respond by posting questions or e-mailing me at email@example.com
I will include answers to your questions in the next few posts!