The holiday season is supposed to be full of good things—but as we all know, it doesn’t always work out that way. Your holiday season may be heavier on stress than on frivolity or good cheer—and if you happen to be in eating disorder recovery, that additional stress can prove truly damaging. Stress can exacerbate any mental health condition, be it an eating disorder, depression, or an anxiety disorder. As such, those who are in recovery often have a particularly hard time during the busy weeks of December.
The good news is that there are always steps you can take to minimize and mitigate the stress in your life—and to ensure the right mindset for your recovery. Here are some suggestions we’d make for anyone looking to regulate their holiday stress levels more effectively.
Strategies for Managing Holiday Stress
Don’t overcommit yourself. It’s important to have realistic goals and expectations for the holiday season. You don’t have to go to every party. You don’t have to show up for every event. You may be the one who normally hosts the family Christmas dinner, but if you’re stressed and overburdened this year, don’t hesitate to ask someone else to step in for you. Your mental health and your recovery are the top priorities, and your loved ones will understand that.
Ask for help when you need it. Along the same lines, maybe you’re just not feeling like you can bake your famous Christmas desserts this year, or you feel stressed out at the very thought of wrapping presents. Ask a family member or close friend to take some of those duties—some of that stress—off your plate.
Make a plan. A disorganized December can often lend itself to additional layers of stress—so take some time to make a game plan. Schedule a day on your calendar when you’ll sit down at your computer and do all your shopping online, then schedule another day when you’ll wrap, and so on. Have a plan and a designated day for everything.
Maintain your habits of recovery. No matter how busy the season gets, you always need to make time for your health and wellbeing. Keep going to meetings with your therapist and your dietitian, and arriving for support group meetings—even if you don’t feel like you “need” it. Prioritize your recovery!
Give yourself time to rest. In all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it can be difficult to find time to take a breather—yet doing so is a vital way of protecting your health and your sanity. Factor a few minutes into each day for meditation, a quiet walk, or even just a nap! Give yourself a rest day, too, if at all possible.
Develop an outlet. It can also be helpful to have an outlet for expressing your anxieties and your stress. This could be almost anything—painting, drawing, playing an instrument, journaling… you name it. Just find a healthy way to channel the way you’re feeling.
Check into a recovery center. If you truly feel like the stress is taking a toll on you and you need a heightened level of care, don’t hesitate to reach out to Alsana about our Holiday Refocus Program, which will help you recommit yourself to the principles of eating disorder recovery.
The holiday season is an important time of the year, but your health is more important still. Remember that, and do what you need to do to keep seasonal stress at bay. Call us if we can help.[cta] How do you cope with holiday stress? Connect with us on Facebook to let us know! [/cta]