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Practical Tips for Recovery From an Eating Disorder over the festive season

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The thought of the Christmas holidays and celebrations are for some people 'the happiest time of the year". For someone in recovery from an eating disorder, this could be a time of intense stress and anxiety. Where others are thinking of the visits with family and friends around drinks and snacks, Minced Pies, Fruit Cake, and of course the Christmas day meal at a table laden with indulgence of every kind, people in recovery from an eating disorder (ED) are dreading these occasions.

Here are some tips to help you through this joyful festive time:

  • Keep to your recovery program. Make sure your day is structured and that you keep to the recovery disciplines you have put in place.
  • Get up at a reasonable hour every day.
  • Start your day with inspirational reading or meditation.
  • Stick to your required mealplan - meals and snacks.
  • Socialise with family and friends - do not isolate.
  • Attend a 12-step meeting for extra support - do not neglect this privilege. 12 step meetings over the festive season have proved to be very special and intimate. This is a fellowship that never closes for Christmas or holidays.
  • Keep in close contact with your sponsor or other people in recovery via text, phone, or email. If necessary, plan a brief daily check-in call.
  • You might experience more ED thoughts during this time - listen to your heart. If necessary, write down what your heart might be saying - these will be your feelings, your desires, your needs, and will probably be focused on self-nurturing. If there are feelings of guilt and self-loathing, you are probably listening to your head.
  • When you are feeling low or anxious, tell someone. If you need extra support from a loved one, ask for it. Don't try to be what you are not, and take responsibility for your own feelings and happiness. Let others take responsibility for their own feelings and happiness.
  • Include half an hour of exercising your DBT tools, just to stay in practice. When the need arises, you can access them more easily.
  • Avoid triggers as far as possible.
  • Write a gratitude list every day. This will help cultivate a healthy attitude. You are not a victim because you have an eating disorder, you are a winner taking charge of your life, and owning your rightful place. In this way, it will be easier for your loved ones to be in your company.
  • Keep a daily diary at the end of each day, and reflect on how/whether you used the tools of recovery.
  • Keep in close contact with your Higher Power.
  • If necessary, have a couple of self-affirmations or words of encouragement and motivation written on cards, and make sure they are accessible .

Keep in mind Christmas or New Year is just a day with 24 hours, the same as any other day. Keep it simple.

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