The holiday season can be a time of love, and togetherness, but it can also be pretty stressful if you have an eating disorder. It can also be an opportunity to take the focus off your illness and enjoy yourself. To get through the holiday period, it’s useful to put in place some self-care strategies. Here’s some tips our Helpline counsellors have suggested:
1. Be kind to yourself
If you notice your self-talk being a bit harsh, try to take notice of that – without judgement. Take a moment, and think about your very best friend. How would you speak to them? Try to alter the way you speak to yourself, to be more like how you would speak to a friend, with gentleness and love. Self-love and compassion are so important. The way you speak to yourself matters, so speak kindly.
2. Try not to put so much pressure on yourself
You may notice throughout the festivities you are feeling extra anxious. Maybe you are worried that you’ll eat too much, or you won’t eat enough. It’s okay. You are human. If you have an idea of how you wanted the day to go, and it doesn’t…try your best to just let it go. Don’t beat yourself up. Go back to tip #1, and repeat.
3. Have some structure
Having a routine around the holiday season could be helpful to keep you feeling more connected and less stressed. That way if the days are more chaotic than usual, you can feel a little more grounded by creating structure to help you feel more in control as the day goes on. For example, start your day with meditation or yoga. Or plan to call a friend or a person who can give you support – or our National Helpline – at a certain time in the day.
4. Take some time out
If you’re feeling overwhelmed take some time to regroup. Maybe go for a walk. Or find a quiet place. Whenever you can go that will give you some time to be by yourself. Family time is great, but sometimes it can all be a bit too much. Download a mindfulness app, such as Insight Timer, which has free meditations from 1 minute long and up, including ones for anxiety and self-compassion. Take a deep breath, or two, and remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can.
5. Let go of the comparisons
The holiday time means different things for different people. For some it may a time of joy, while for others it could be a time of anxiousness. People celebrate the holiday in their own ways, and we all have different feelings associated with this time of year. Don’t be down on yourself if you feel like you aren’t bringing on the cheer enough. Show up, as you are, and just let yourself be you.
6. Plan ahead
Try to make a plan for yourself, so that you can feel more in charge of your food experiences. Some people like to help out in the kitchen, so they are more aware of what food is being prepared, while others may not like to be involved at all. Do whatever will allow you to feel most comfortable. It may be useful to put your plan in writing and keep in in your pocket, or somewhere easily accessible. That way if you feel overwhelmed at any point, you will be able to have it as a quick reference.
7. Allow yourself to celebrate
Food can play a significant role in festive celebrations, but it’s not the only role. Take time to do other things that will help make you feel happy. Maybe some mediation to ease your mind. Journal, writing out how you feel or things that you are proud of. Perhaps playing games, or listening to your favourite songs.
8. Find the balance
While spending time with loved ones is lovely, it can also sometimes be emotionally draining as well. Don’t feel like you have to say yes to every plan that is made. Find your personal balance between putting yourself out there and practising self-care. Check in with yourself throughout this time, and set boundaries that will best help you take care of you.
9. Lean on your support
During the holiday time it may be harder to get in touch with doctors, or therapists you may have been working with. Think about who you can go to get support from before things get too overwhelming, and help you enjoy the present moments. Maybe it’s a family member, a friend, a partner, a workmate, our National Helpline…whoever it may be, have them in the back of your mind as available support if you need it, to help remind you that you are not alone. Lean on the people in your life who care about you, let them be there for you.
10. Remember: You are enough
Bottom line. Regardless of what you may think about yourself or how you are feeling in this moment. Let your inner voice be louder than your disordered eating voice. Your mind is very powerful, and what you tell it is important. So make sure to tell it kind things about yourself. Remind yourself by saying it over and over again…I AM enough.
We’re open every day over the holidays, except for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
If you need urgent assistance or support, please ring Lifeline on 13 11 14, which will be open throughout the holiday period.
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The holiday period can be a tough time if you’re experiencing an eating disorder. Post-Christmas and New Years can be even more challenging. As you move past this holiday season, your inner critic may be louder than usual and expectations at an all-time high.