While many enjoy the holiday season as it’s a time to get together with loved ones and cherish each other, it can be a time of overwhelming emotions for people in treatment or recovering from eating disorders. Fortunately, people living with an eating disorder diagnosis can take some steps to make the holidays more manageable. This way, they can protect their eating disorder recovery and still stay on the path to meeting their treatment goals.
People living with the effects of eating disorders may find it more challenging to maintain their treatment goals during the holidays for several reasons. The first reason is that the holidays are typically centered around big holiday feasts and drinking. This can bring about high levels of stress and anxiety for people with eating disorders. Another reason that the holidays can be challenging for people in eating disorder recovery is that the holidays can come with a number of triggers. Being around family, having to receive comments about how people think you look, and a disruption in routine can all bring about negative emotions for people with eating disorders. Therefore, these issues can make it more difficult to not fall back into using disordered eating behaviors as a way to cope.
Certainly, while the holidays may make eating disorder recovery a bit more stressful and even more challenging, there are a few things people diagnosed with eating disorders can do to make this time a year a little bit easier including:
Mental health issues like eating disorders don’t take time off for the holidays. So, your eating disorder recovery shouldn’t stop just because your routine changes during this time of year. To make the best of your recovery during the holiday season, you should schedule your time wisely and plan ahead. This can give you expectations about what you’ll be doing and give your family and loved ones’ expectations about what to expect when it comes to spending time with you.
During the holidays, you may come across stress and anxiety surrounding food that may be overwhelming. While dealing with these emotions, it’s important to have the help and support you need. So, reach out to your therapist or nutritionist if you need help. It may actually even help to tell your therapist or dietician about when you’ll be at holiday events and schedule times for check-ins. If this isn’t available to you, find a supportive peer that’s available to support you during the holidays so you can have the encouragement you need. And, reach out to them when you feel overwhelmed or especially anxious about eating behaviors during the holidays.
It can be challenging to focus on the ‘reason for the season when you are constantly worried about the holiday meals. So, it’s important to try to focus on other aspects of the holiday that don’t have to do with food. When you find yourself stressing about the holiday meals, remind yourself what the holidays are about for you. This can include spending time with your family, how happy the holidays make your children, your religious beliefs, or anything else you love about the holiday seasons.
If you are struggling with disordered eating, the holidays shouldn’t keep you from getting the help you need. Yellowbrick is an outpatient psychiatric treatment facility located near Chicago that helps people living with a number of mental health issues, including eating disorders. Find out more about how we help people struggling with eating disorders from our website.
Yellowbrick collaborates with adolescents and emerging adults, ages 16-30's, their families and participating professionals toward the development and implementation of a strategic “Life Plan.” An integrative, multi-specialty consultation clarifies strengths, limitations, and risks, and defines motivations, goals and choices.
A mental health condition that’s characterized by intense shifts in mood including both manic and depressive episodes.
People living with Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD, experience episodes of depression and sadness that are debilitating to daily life.
Those living with anxiety disorders experience high levels of anxiety and stress that interfere negatively with daily life.
A mental health issue in which a person’s cognitive function is impaired, resulting in symptoms like experiencing challenges with conducting speech, reading and writing, and behavior.
Mental health disorders that negatively affect a person’s behaviors, thought patterns, and function. People diagnosed with these disorders experience challenges with managing relationships and understanding various situations.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that people can develop as a result of experiencing traumatic situations, characterized by symptoms including flashbacks, avoidance behaviors, and more.
A mental health condition that is characterized by specific symptoms of forgetfulness and lack of concentration, which makes it challenging to complete necessary tasks.
Mental health conditions that interfere with a person’s eating habits, thought patterns, and behaviors in negative ways.
A mental health disorder diagnosable with the DSM-5 that is characterized by both obsessions and compulsive behaviors.