Coping with the Holiday Season

Christmas is less than a week away.  Yes, less than a week!  I can hardly believe it either.  That means, for many of us, a lot of stress and anxiety.  Christmas means our providers are on holiday, our schedules/routines are changed, family will be present, and there will be food and a lot of it.  It is hard.

Here are a few of my favorite coping skills for this time of year:

1. Plan ahead.  Discuss your worries in advance with your therapist.  Come up with a game plan for the things that you know will be an issue for you and work through some of the other anxiety that you may have.

2. Find your own space. By this I mean find space for yourself to go when/if you need a moment to yourself.  It is okay to need a break and to take a break, so make sure that you have a space already planned out so when you need it, you already know where to go and do not have that additional stress of figuring it out or feeling trapped.  My favorite spaces include my room (when I am at home), a bedroom in the house I am at, the car we drove in, and going outside (if possible).

3. Have an ally.  If possible, have a person whom you trust present that you can confide in when you are anxious or need someone to talk to.  If you do not have a person present, have a friend you can text or call.  Having a supportive person there can mean so much.

4. Avoid known triggers.  Everyone has different triggers.  If you know certain things will trigger your eating disorder, avoid it.  For me, that means avoiding alcohol (for the most part), getting tons of sleep, taking enough time for myself, and taking very good self-care.

Make a holiday plan for yourself.  What works best for you?  What do you need to do to prepare for the holiday?  What do you need to do to have a good holiday season?

My Recovery Journey in 2013

Every year in my journal I reflect upon the past year and all of my accomplishments along with goals still in progress and for the next year.  It reminds me of everything that I achieved and allows me to celebrate each accomplishment and gives me a good platform for continuing in my recovery and what else I want/need to accomplish.

One of the biggest rules I have for this yearly reflection is kindness and compassion.  If I am still working on something, then I am still working on it.  If I still did not make it to something on my list that I wanted to accomplish, then that is okay, too.  This is not about what I did not accomplish, but about celebrating what I did.  It about continuing to make, change, erase, or whatever any goals I may have in the future and the future is whenever.  I do not have to accomplish everything in a month, six months, or a year.  There is no perfection here.

Accomplishments

  • Working through difficult issues (some for the first time).
  • Worked through some important OCD issues.
  • Stayed committed to recovery and for the most part did not engage in behaviors all year!
    • This was HUGE for me!  I had a lot of ups and downs after getting out of treatment last summer.  It was last winter, I turned things around and made huge changes and this year really did the best I ever have in recovery.  I am really proud of myself.
  • Improved my physical health through recovery.
    • My body is slowly but surely healing from the eating disorder and it is awesome to hear after a year’s time the improvement in my health!
  • Worked through a significant portion of my fear foods!
    • I have accomplished so much on my fear foods list!  I cannot be more happy!  I am eating foods that I have not eaten in years.  I am so fortunate and grateful for my meal support and cannot wait to knock out those other fear foods ASAP!
  • Made my entire treatment team proud of me.
  • Started writing about recovery and gained more than ever expected.
    • I never thought starting this blog would lead to anything important.  I was so wrong.  I am so grateful for everyone here that reads and every opportunity that has come my way because of this.  I truly do not have words for how much you all and it all means to me.
  • Celebrated my birthday again this year.
    • The story behind this is that I stopped celebrating my birthday many years ago.  I thought that I was not worth it and did not deserve any of it.  It was not until last year that I started celebrating it again.  This year, I celebrated it again and it was one of my best birthdays ever.  I am worth it.
  • Bought clothes for myself using the mantra, “Wear what is comfortable.”
    • This was a huge step for me and I am so glad I did it.  Still need to continue to swap out small clothes and buy other clothes, but I am making more progress than ever.
  • Gained the ability to read again.
    • Up until earlier this year, I had been unable to read because my eating disorder had robbed me of that ability.  My brain could simply not concentrate long enough to be able to read while I was sick.  In recovery, I am able to read to my heart’s content!
  • Took better care of myself this year than ever before.
  • Connected with others (family, friends, etc.) more this year.
  • Ate meals with others and not alone.
    • Big deal for me, too.  I had continued to eat alone like I did when I was in my eating disorder instead of with others.  Long story short, I made a big effort to overcome my fears and eat with other people.  I do not have to eat alone anymore!

Goals

  • Continue writing.
  • Continue to work on my fear foods list and the few items left.
  • Stay committed to recovery no matter what.
  • Build more body acceptance and love.
  • Continue working through difficult issues.
  • Continue to improve my health and heal my body.
  • Continue to celebrate my birthday every year.  I am worth it.
  • Continue to take good self-care and make it a priority.
  • Continue to eat meals with others and not alone.
  • Find more self-compassion, more often.
  • Achieve full eating disorder recovery.
    • This is definitely an on-going goal!
  • Continue to work on my OCD.
  • Continue, “Wear what is comfortable.”

Of course these accomplishments and goals are not an exhaustive list (and I may have forgotten a few big things to write down!), but these are some of the most important recovery accomplishments this years and goals for the next.  I have accomplished so much and I could not be more happy or proud of myself for my achievements.  I cannot wait to see what else I can achieve in recovery in the upcoming year and beyond.  I know, with recovery, I can accomplish the things that were never possible before when I was sick.  I can accomplished my dreams.

What have you accomplished in your recovery this year?  What are your goals for the future?    Remember: Have kindness and compassion towards yourself when writing down your accomplishments and goals and NO accomplishment is too small to celebrate!