The holidays are a difficult time for many reasons. Some may be suffering recent loss, while others will still be feeling the impacts of social distancing and isolation. For others, the reason could be medical, whether it’s mental or physical. Eating disorders are among an umbrella of mental illnesses which may take the light from celebrating Christmas.
Although a ‘season of joy for many, coping with a very food-focused holiday like Christmas can feel more like hell than joy on earth. Food can easily become the main focus of every situation, which can leave us feeling smothered by the calories we’re expected to consume while trying to remain in recovery. No matter what side of the spectrum you’re on, weight, whether losing it or gaining it, is always lurking around the corner.
*Some people may be required to lose weight in order to recover and may have an addiction to food which they find difficult to control. Likewise with Bulimia. While on the other side, those with anorexia may find the constant reminder of their biggest fear (food & weight gain), is much too difficult to face. No matter where you are on the spectrum, you are valid and heard, and this post has something for you.
Five ways to support someone during the holidays. And why weight gain isn’t the end of the world:
Let go of expectations
There were many years when my experience with Christmas was ruined by my expectations. I always want Christmas and New Year to be perfect. But by holding that expectation neither were ever very good. I always ended up feeling sorely disappointed and lonely. The truth is nothing can be perfect and we need to let go of that expectation.
Equally, we need to let go of the expectation we hold for ourselves. It’s okay to eat a little bit more than usual, it’s okay to get up at nine instead of six. Challenge the negative thinking patterns that are telling you that it’s not, and tell them exactly why it is!
Set aside time for self-care
One of the biggest downsides of the holidays is that we’re expected to be there both physically and mentally. Even emotionally! Depending on who you are and how you handle social situations, they may be easier said than done.
If you find spending time with people overwhelming, then it’s a good idea to schedule some ‘me time. Pop off during the downtime and read a book or play some video games. If you’re fit and able you could even do some yoga.
You should never be ashamed to take a break from all the socialisation that’s expected of you. There is no reason to burn yourself during a holiday that you’re meant to spend time relaxing.
Plan things to look forward to
For anyone with an eating disorder, the time after our meal can be the hardest. It’s the time when we reflect on what we’ve just consumed, whether we want to or not. From my experience, it’s always best to have a planned distraction to look forward to. This can be in the form of colouring-in, reading a good book or even partaking in the annual Monopoly minefield.
Make sure you have something in mind prior to walking into the situation but don’t be afraid to change it up a bit if prompted.
Practice kindness, even to yourself
This shouldn’t need much explanation. Be nice, be kind and be mindful of others during the holidays. For some, this could be the first year without a loved one or perhaps they’re lonely and have no one to turn to. No matter where you are, at work or at home, be kind.
How can we mention kindness without also thinking of ourselves!? Impossible! The kindness you put out into the world needs to also be displayed in how we treat ourselves.
Set clear boundaries
The holidays are usually a time filled with work-dos, family gatherings and spending time with loved ones. You can’t attend everything, and that’s perfectly fine. Just like you can’t please everyone, which is also perfectly fine (and entirely not your fault).
NO is not a dirty word. If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed by a situation, then you have the right to politely decline or excuse yourself.
Related read: When Is It Important To Say No?
Pop out for a walk, spend time with your dog/cat, take a breather with some Netflix, or even go for a nap. Self-care is so important during the holidays in general, but especially when you’re surrounded by potential triggers.
Why weight gain isn’t the end of the world
It’s okay if your weight fluctuates. We’re not robots and our bodies are not meant to stay the same forever. If you gain weight during the holidays or any other time, it’s not the end of the world. No matter what your mother says, or what you read online, weight fluctuation is a natural thing.
If you’d like to find out more about weight gain and set-point theory, check out this post where I go into detail about trusting our bodies.
Thank you for reading this wonderful guest post from Nyxie’s Nook. If you have any of your own tips to add, please share them in the comments.
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