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Recovery blog

Gifts to Self This Holiday Season

By: Tiffany Phillips, MA, LMFT, Alumni Rep at The Renfrew Center Nashville

Posted on December 20, 2016

'Tis the season to be stressed out and over-scheduled. Recovering from an eating disorder is a challenge at all times of the year, but during the holidays, it can be incredibly difficult. While you are busy shopping, decorating the tree, or attending family get-togethers, look for ways you can give yourself some well needed gifts this holiday season.

The gift of self-care: Self-care is critical in recovery. It is saying to yourself "you are worth taking care of" and "you are worth the hard work." It is a lot easier to make recovery-oriented choices when you feel kind toward yourself. Take the time to write yourself a holiday card this year. Write out all of the successes you have accomplished in recovery and remind yourself of what motivates you to keep fighting. Sit down by the fire and enjoy listening to your favorite holiday music or enjoying the lights on the tree while sipping a warm cup of cinnamon tea. Do something that says "I care about myself."

The gift of grace: Having grace for one's self involves self-compassion and forgiveness for not being perfect. Holding one's self to unattainable standards of perfection inevitably leads to shame. Shame leads to withdrawal, social isolation, and self-hatred--which only fuels the eating disorder further. You are going to make mistakes in recovery and very well may have a struggle or two during the holidays. Recognize these moments as opportunities to learn and grow. Tell yourself that it is okay to not always have it all together. Forgive yourself and do "the next right thing."

The gift of truly being present: When you are wrapping holiday gifts, be fully involved in the process. Feel the crispness of the paper on your fingertips, notice the stickiness of the tape, appreciate the color and design on the paper. If your mind wanders to the past or the future, gently bring yourself back to the moment without judging or criticizing. This is the act of mindfulness. Being mindful helps us not feel as overwhelmed emotionally because we are only focused on what is happening right now. It allows us to engage in our emotional experiences instead of avoiding and suppressing as you may have in the eating disorder.

May you experience these gifts and have a wonderful, recovery-oriented, holiday season.
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