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Navigating the Holidays in Early Recovery

Oh the holidays! Festive lights, presents, connecting with loved ones, cozy fires. But for those with eating disorders, the holidays can also bring a lot of new challenges. The following are some tips for navigating the holiday season, particularly early in your recovery process.

Be honest. Check in with yourself about what you can handle and what you want to do, and don’t be afraid to admit your fears to yourself and others. Rather than making excuses, let your supports know how to help.

Let go of expectations. If you don’t feel ready to take on holiday parties or other festive gatherings (on Zoom or at a distance), don’t feel bound by tradition. Your recovery is the most important thing. If you want to be present for an hour, or pop into an online hangout for 5 minutes, great! Do what feels right for you.

Plan ahead. If you’ll be seeing people in person, consider instituting the buddy system and use this person to help steer conversations from diet talk, body image, or other topics that some people may not be mindful of limiting.

Be mindful. Take time to really think about the holidays and what they represent to you. It can be easy to forget while you’re making holiday wish lists, plotting your stakeout for Black Friday, and figuring out how to balance your recovery among it all. Instead of letting this season fly by, take time to reflect. Think on what you have to be grateful for, things you are looking forward to, and the important people in your life.

Take care of yourself. Schedule in time for self-care, and consider adding in a few extra touchpoints with your team. Whether that’s going to an AA group, scheduling a session with your therapist, or connecting with others in recovery. Regardless of where you are in your journey, there is nothing wrong with reaching out for support. It’s always better to have plans in place and reschedule if you don’t need it.

Above all, your recovery is most important. Keep that top of mind and give yourself grace, because recovery is not a linear path. The extra stress surrounding this time of year is challenging for everyone. Maintain contact with your supports, your team of providers, and be honest about what you’re experiencing. Remember you are not alone and you will get through this holiday season.

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