For many of us, last year’s holidays were scaled back or cancelled. For folks who live with eating disorders, this could have been a relief – the holidays can be stressful as so many social events tend to revolve around food and can involve unwelcome feedback on your diet or body. This year, with distancing measures eased, could present new challenges. Here are some of our favourite holiday survival tips. You might also want to refer to this resource which accompanied this webinar from last year, co-presented with Sheena’s Place and Eating Disorders Nova Scotia.
- Be realistic about your capacity - try not to overschedule. It’s okay if you can’t do everything. You might disappoint some people, but that’s okay. You are allowed to prioritize your own well-being and schedule in breaks and alone time, especially around events that you know could be stressful. There is a lot of pressure to do things in a certain way, but you might not be able to accommodate everyone’s demands – you can always schedule meetups for a later date.
- Plan ahead. You might be able to anticipate which gatherings could be stressful and where you might need extra support. You could try bringing a supportive friend, or having a plan to text someone in specific situations. Maybe you can schedule some recuperative self-care activities after periods that you know are likely to be high stress.
- Identify your supports. Don’t be afraid to tell them what you need! If you have friends or family members who can be supportive of you, reach out to them. See if you can plan ways they can support you in advance --- if you’re attending a gathering together, maybe you can have a code phrase to indicate when you need support or a little break. If you have a therapist or other avenue for support, perhaps you can spend some time planning for different scenarios to anticipate what kind of support you might need in different moments.
- Plan and practice responding to comments and criticism. Do you have certain family members who always comment on what’s on your plate, or who can’t resist noting if your weight has changed? See if you can practice ways of shutting them down. For inspiration, take a look at this post about comebacks for harmful comments.
- You might need to draw boundaries. That’s okay! You are allowed to draw boundaries. You are allowed to take steps to protect your recovery, even if other people take it personally. Boundaries are there to protect you and to help you maintain relationships in a healthy way.
- Celebrate your successes and forgive yourself when things are imperfect. Things might not always go perfectly. That’s okay! Perhaps you can learn from those experiences so that the next time might be easier. Sometimes things just don’t go well and all you can do is try again tomorrow – that’s okay too. Make sure to celebrate your successes in a way that’s meaningful to you. Even small victories are worth noting and savouring.