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Tips for You and Your Family this Holiday Season

By: Lisa Luse, LCSW-C

Posted on December 11, 2017

The holiday season is upon us and for those recovering from an eating disorder this can be an especially stressful time; the meals, the outfits, the parties, the politics, the memories from previous years, the change in routine. If you, like so many others, are feeling an increased sense of anxiety, it is important to know that you are not alone and that you have a great opportunity to make this year different than last. In both recognizing and changing a disordered behavior from last year you are taking an awesome step for your recovery, one that shows both strength and courage. Below are 4 tips for how to push further into your recovery this holiday season.

1. Decide what you are going to do to challenge yourself
What do you wish you did differently last year? Are you in a place to do it this year? Even if you don't feel like you are ready to dive head first into a challenge, are you able to take one more step to get there? Even the tiniest change can make a big difference and is something to be celebrated.

2. Identify last year's barriers and how to get around them
What barriers got in your way last year? Do they still exist? What can you do to overcome them? If motivation is a barrier for you write out a list and keep it with you while you complete your challenge. Include all the reasons why you want to be able to do this activity. Worried about how you will feel? Emotions are safe. They might not always feel good but they will not hurt you, it's your behaviors that will hurt you. Write out the steps that you are going to take, be specific, and praise yourself for each step that you take along the way. Trying something new is a big deal! Give yourself tons of credit.

3. Pull in your support system
They want to help but often do not know how. Share your plan with them and give them ways in which they can support you.

4. Practice self-compassion
The holidays are a stressful time for those with and without an eating disorder. The fact that you are willing to even entertain the idea of challenging yourself during this time is a big deal, and likely even more than you would have done in your eating disorder. That is progress. Focus on your successes and be gentle with yourself, talk to yourself that same way that you would talk to a friend who is trying something new.

Let this holiday season be one that you enjoy and one that you can look back on with pride. You did not choose to have an eating disorder but you can choose to challenge yourself a little bit each day in order to create a better life for yourself. Celebrate yourself this holiday season and all that you have accomplished over this past year and give yourself one last gift this holiday season, the gift of being able to say "I am one step closer to a recovered life." Have a wonderful holiday and a happy New Year!

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