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December 6, 2019

Maintaining Your Recovery During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a wonderful and exciting time for families and friends to celebrate together. While many people look forward to the holiday season, this time of year can cause an increase in stressors for individuals who are in recovery from an eating disorder.

Here are five important tips to help you effectively navigate the holidays while maintaining recovery.

1. Maintain routines that are important to your recovery.

There are probably several routines you have established as part of your recovery process, like meeting regularly with your treatment team, ensuring you are meeting your nutritional needs throughout the day, and engaging in self-care activities on a routine basis. Life events like returning to school or traveling for the holidays can pose barriers to maintaining these routines that have helped you along in your path to recovery.  Be sure that you prioritize planning to maintain these routines in the face of the changes that the holiday season can bring.

2. Plan for possibly challenging situations.

Many of the activities that accompany the holiday season, like meals and tailgate cookouts, cookie baking, and socializing with friends and family can be challenging, even for people who have a strong recovery in place. If you anticipate some of these scenarios being difficult, this is a great opportunity to revisit your relapse prevention plan, speak with your treatment team, and refamiliarize yourself with coping skills to use in navigating these situations successfully.

3. Seek a balance in social time and alone time that works best for you.

The holiday season is often a social time of year, and it is important to strike a balance between social and alone time that works best for you.  Each person is different when it comes to preferences and needs around socializing, and it is important to respect your own limits and needs.  It is also okay to set limits about who you will socialize with and ask that family members and friends accept your boundaries around this.

4. Set boundaries.

For someone recovering from an eating disorder, it is important to set and maintain boundaries – especially during the holidays. This can mean shutting down diet talk during dinner conversation, deciding how much time to spend with friends and family, not engaging with individuals who are not supportive of your recovery, walking away from triggering conversations or situations, and always placing your recovery first.

5. Don’t be afraid to reach out.  

Changes in routine during this time of year can be and create challenges for those in recovery from an eating disorder. It is okay to ask for additional support from family members, friends, and your treatment team during this time – that is what makes you strong in your recovery! Keep in mind that support can come not only in the form of providing a safe place to talk but also in the form of helping with logistical challenges that can pose barriers to appropriate self-care.

Maintaining your recovery during the holiday season requires a certain degree of thoughtfulness and planning, we also hope that you can find some joy and gratitude this holiday season.

About the Author

Alyssa Kalata, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and Clinical Trainer for Veritas Collaborative, a healthcare system for the treatment of eating disorders. Alyssa firmly believes that all individuals and families have the right to competent, compassionate care and her approach to treatment is one that balances understanding and validation with a focus on cultivating change.