How to Stay Committed to Self-Care this Holiday Season
Updated: Dec 14, 2021
Hi there & thanks for reading. This is a post for any human, and particularly those who are in the midst of healing relationships to food, body and/or exercise.
As you probably know, this time of year will rip us around if we let it. From typically packed schedules and heightened emotions to hard family dynamics, covid stuff and diet culture x10, it is a time when taking care of ourselves can be harder than usual. It can make recovery from an eating disorder or disordered eating harder than it already is. If you’re feeling this way, I see you and you’re not alone. I also want you to know that you don’t have to be perfect in your healing process.
So, here are some tools to try and things to keep in mind this holiday season:
Remember you are in a relationship with your body. What are the top three most important traits in significant relationships in your life? Some common ones I hear from clients are communication, trust and respect. So, this holiday, how can you also practice aligning with those important traits when it comes to how you relate to your body? Let’s take trust, for example. To build trust in relationships with other humans, we show up for them and show our loyalty, right? And sometimes we have to do this even when we really don’t feel like it! To build trust in relationships with our bodies, it’s the same. We show up and show loyalty by nourishing ourselves with things like enough food and enough rest — even if we don’t feel like it.
Ground yourself in your values to stand in your power. If you have worked with me, you know I love values. It’s because they are so anchoring and supportive in recovery when the going gets tough. Core values are things that we really care deeply about, such as relationships, faith and health. This holiday season, if you get triggered by a diet culture comment from a family member (like Keto-Aunt-Karen) and/or your disordered brain gets louder, come back to your values and act from that place. You cannot control what other people say or what thoughts you have, but you CAN control how you respond to them.
Set boundaries with others, externally & internally. Consider yourself lucky if you do not have a family or friend group that ramps up the diet culture garbage during the holiday season in conversations! If you need help setting boundaries in a way that feels authentic to you, follow this link to read a past post I wrote about dealing with diet culture at the holidays. And you can also try practicing what I call the “recovery cocoon” when you’re at the family holiday table (or wherever you need it) and envision yourself wrapped up in an imaginary cocoon - it’s like your own secret safe space where diet culture can’t steal your peace. Some of my clients have gotten creative and given their cocoons colors and textures.
Give yourself permission. One of the most simple yet helpful pieces of advice I ever got when I was in my own healing process was to allow myself to lean into the pleasures of this season. It’s not easy at first, but once you start and continue, it gets easier, and can even be joyful! Some examples of how to do this are eating out of taste hunger (you are not necessarily physically hungry but just want the cookie because it sounds good, so you eat it!) and allowing yourself to embrace the other aspects of food outside of nutrition/nutrients - pleasure, fun, connection and tradition.
Commit to non-negotiable & genuine self-care. Identify your authentic non-negotiable self-care needs and commit to honoring them regardless of how much you’ve got going on. This is showing yourself you are worthy of getting your needs met and taking care of yourself even when your external world may be busier than usual. Some examples are getting enough sleep and practicing sleep hygiene, feeding yourself regular meals and snacks, doing something creative and/or fun, and taking time out to be by yourself to slow down for at least a few minutes each day.
Practice Self-Compassion. The three facets of self-compassion (created by researcher Kristin Neff) are self-kindness, common humanity & mindfulness. If/when you are struggling in your recovery this holiday season, to practice self-compassion, practice being aware of your emotion/s and thoughts present in your suffering, instead of fusing tightly with them (mindfulness). Remember you are not your thoughts or emotions. Remind yourself you are not alone in the human experience of this emotion (common humanity) and speak to yourself in this experience with kindness and respect - just like you would respond to someone you love (self-kindness).
Wishing you a holiday season that is full of compassion, patience and commitment to your self-care.
In true health,
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