The Holidays mark a season of tradition, family gatherings, and meals. For someone experiencing an Eating Disorder, this can become an uncomfortable time of year. Thanksgiving poses multiple triggers for anxiety, struggles with food, and stressful family dynamics.
Eating Recovery takes hard work, self-compassion, and support from others. Connection is a key ingredient for healing. Spend Thanksgiving where it feels safe. Hopefully this is with family. Or it may be with your chosen family of close friends. Other options include coworkers, your Recovery community, or you may want to spend the day working or volunteering. Gathering around the family table for Thanksgiving can be an enjoyable experience with a recovery plan in place.
Whether you are needing support for yourself, or a you have a family member who struggles with food and want to better understand their needs, here are some tips to help get through this holiday:
THANKSGIVING SUPPORT KIT:
Know Your Surroundings.
Identifying your plans for the entire day can help you feel prepared should triggers arise. Where will you be going for Thanksgiving? Who else will be there? How long does Thanksgiving typically last at this location? Do you have energy to go to more than one house, or to host Thanksgiving?
Once you know the general layout of the day, then you can develop your game plan for the “what if” situations. Have a plan to leave early if you know there will be someone there that makes you feel anxious or tense. Sit by those that feel safe and supportive. Go outside to play with younger relatives to break up the day. Bring some board games and a deck of cards to have activities handy in case you need some fun distraction from the stress of the day.
Bring A Support Person.
Invite a guest to join the festivities for added support. Bring your sponsor or a trusted person in Recovery for an eating disorder to be with you. Having a friend at the table who understands the struggle can be comforting to have nearby.
It’s ok to contact family members in advance to express your needs for a comfortable Thanksgiving experience. Does someone usually make a comment about your size or eating habits? Ask that they refrain from making ANY comments. Is the latest fad diet a popular topic of conversation? Ask your family to take a break from discussing diets during Thanksgiving. Do you need your family to give you space or to keep you engaged? Ask for their help with this. All of these are reasonable requests to help support your Recovery!
Help prepare meals with your family if it helps to have a focus while connecting with others. Partake in the bonding that occurs with sharing a meal with loved ones. Take in the pleasant moments of the day. Thanksgiving consists of more than the meal; the holiday is full of traditions that can be fulfilling for your social needs and nurturing to your intimate relationships.
Last but not least, notice at least one thing for which you feel grateful. If gratitude feels challenging, some ideas to consider are: a good friendship, a pet you love dearly, the weather outside, the holidays (or Thanksgiving being over with), naps, or anything that feels like an accomplishment for today.
If you or a loved one is in need of support, Low Country Counseling offers specialized therapy for Individuals, Moms, Couples, Families, Children, and Teens. Contact us for any questions you need answered or to schedule an appointment. Help is available. You are not alone!
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