It’s that time of year again. The holiday season quickly approaching. It feels like everyone but you is counting down, planning out baked goods, planning trips, and writing down names for the family or work gift exchange. Holidays are tough. And if you’re navigating mental health, food, body image, eating disorder recovery and perhaps loss, the last thing you want to do is dress in the same stupid pajamas for a photo.
oh… the feelings…
Holidays bring up conflicting feelings we’re either consciously or unconsciously aware of. There’s an increase in social gatherings during this time that bring wanted and unwanted folks. Comments and questions regarding personal lives, work, appearance are overwhelming.
I once had a distant family member ask about my five year plan (i.e financial investments and children) as I was shoving a cookie in my mouth. I started to sweat as if I was at a job interview and my income depended on getting this question “right.” I remarked back, “who knows, right now my current plan is having another cookie.” My boundaries, snarky comments, and ability to disengage has been a process.
3 Ways to Thrive this Holiday Season
Let’s focus on three ways to thrive this holiday season.
1. Identify Triggers
Start by identifying triggers. If you’re working with a therapist or dietitian (or both) this would be great to discuss with them. Start by listing out three to five triggers for yourself this holiday season. Perhaps a trigger is Uncle Bill’s presence or Aunt Jill’s comments about her weight. Or about everyone else’s weight. First identifying triggers will really be helpful for navigating the season because it helps you prepare. I have clients that tell me, “Life is just one big trigger.” I don’t disagree, but I say “okay, sure and now lets get really specific.”
2. Make a Plan
Second, come up with a plan. Whether it is a response, escape plan, or texting a friend while at a social event. We want to have a plan of action for each trigger. It is helpful to also take into account how you want the situation to go. Then visualize your ideal. We are all really great at imagining the worst possible scenario. If we create space for our ideal we create opportunity.
Lastly, connect with your chosen family and community. And don’t forget to give yourself compassion. Connecting with your tribe of choice assists in empowering you to make the best decisions possible for yourself and your recovery. Having compassion for oneself is difficult especially during the holiday season when people are literally screaming at you to smile for the photo.
Be gentle and speak kindly to yourself.