With the holidays approaching, we asked what you are most anxious about. If you answered: decorating for the holidays, you are not alone. Many of you told us that thinking about decorating is a huge stress when you are already working to recover from an eating disorder.
Early in my recovery, I remember sitting in a circle with other warriors, shedding tears over the anxiety I felt about my family coming over for a holiday. I wanted my home to be perfect. After listening to my fears, a very wise warrior looked me in the eye and reminded me,
They are not coming over to spend time with a perfect house. They are coming over to spend time with you.
What seemed so obvious logically was harder for me to accept. And yet, deep down I knew she was right.
We want to help so you can enjoy this holiday season without stress around decorating overwhelming you. Keep reading for our suggestions.
Keep it Simple
Remember that whether you are spending holidays with family or by yourself, it is important to connect to the meaning of the holidays you are celebrating. Consider what traditions are most important to you and incorporate those. In contrast, you can let go of old traditions that are no longer meaningful to you. You do not have to repeat something year after year just because you have always done it in the past.
Give yourself permission to focus on the meaning of this time of year, and to choose traditions and decorations that are consistent with that.
How Does It Feel?
Instead of worrying about placing every single decoration perfectly, consider what you want your space to feel like. If you are going to be alone, what soothes and comforts you the most? What colors and decorations bring back cherished memories? What photographs remind you of your connections?
If you are going to welcome family into your home this season, remember that they are visiting with the purpose of spending time with you. They are coming to be with YOU, not to see the perfect decorations.
If you have children, include them in the decorating. Letting go of visions of the perfect decor can free space for your family’s creativity to shine. They will take pride in being a part of the process, and you can share the workload.
Candles are a fun and easy way to create soft lighting and a cozy environment. Consider finding some with soothing scents you enjoy. With so many different colors, shapes, and sizes, candles are an easy way to create a warm atmosphere.
Playing music is a wonderful way to create an inviting and festive space. Select music that brings happy memories and that you feel in your soul. Filling your home with the sounds that ignite your spirit is an excellent way to create the environment you wish for this holiday season.
Focus on being Present
Rather than obsessing about how your home appears, refocus on being present and in the moment. Long after the decorations have been boxed up and put away, you will have the memories you created during this time.
You are much more likely to remember how you felt when looking back on this time than how your home looked.
Decorate with Gratitude
If you enjoy creative projects, consider decorating with visual reminders of things you are grateful for. Display pictures of loved ones or lists of what you are thankful for. Construct a “gratitude tree” using a mason jar, some sticks collected in the yard, and construction paper. Write what you are grateful for on cut-out leaves and hang them on the sticks to create a fun decoration. This is an easy and fun way to focus on your gratitude while creating a decoration. You can do it alone or even as an activity with children or your guests. This makes a beautiful decoration to keep up for the remaining holiday season.
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to decorate for the holidays. Focusing on how you want to feel, the memories you want to create, and the reasons you are celebrating can help ease stress and remind you of what matters the most this season. Lastly, remember that in order to be present and enjoy this season, it is imperative that you take care of yourself.