There are only 25 more days till the chaos is over. And Hannukah begins tomorrow! This is an eight day celebration of rededication and recommitment. That is an important concept for all of us. There comes a period in each of our lives where we are confronted by the reality of how we are spending our time, money, emotional energy, and interior lives.
This is a good time to look at adjustments we can make. What’s most important to you? What do you love? What would you prefer to do without? What do you want to have in your life this year?
And for this holiday season, what do you want most? What are the traditions you most enjoy? Decorating? Gift giving? Cards? Music? Parties? Entertainment? Family? Or peace and time alone?
Whatever it is that you most want and love, plan now to put that into your celebration. For many of us, people are the purpose. There are some people we want to spend more time with, and some folks we could do with less of.
For people with any flavor of eating disorder, the holidays can be a time of conflict. Memories of foods from past years, whether good or bad memories, are powerful motivators. And the holidays are usually full of high-calorie low-nutrient foods with which we struggle. So let us take a look at tips and suggestions to help you get through the season with joy and abundance.
No matter your religion it comes down to acknowledging the gifts that you have received that make your life better, your body healthier, and that enhance your ability to create the life you always wanted.
Abstinence is a gift. We must ask for it. We must do the work to keep it, and then we give it to another in the form of service.
Next, prioritize. What do you really want this holiday season? What activities do you most enjoy about the season? What do you most want to have time to do? What makes the season important to you? Make a list. Plan now to make time to do the things that are important to you, the things that will make your holiday special and precious.
What is the support you need to do the things that are precious to you, but still maintain your abstinence? Plan your meetings, set up your phone calls, tuck in time for prayer and meditation. Start a new recovery book. Whatever you need to do to make it through PLAN IT IN NOW!!! Mark it on your calendar so that nothing takes its place.
For example, be honest with family and friends about your food and your choices. Let people know ahead of time what you would like. Tell Aunt Gertrude that you really do not want her to make her special dessert, “just for you” because you won’t be able to enjoy it this year. And DO NOT let yourself feel guilty!
Give yourself a break every day. Take ten minutes out just for you. Breathe, listen, do whatever you wish that is not food and makes you feel good. Take the time to smell the pine tree or pet the cat. Listen for the advice your Inner Core of Wisdom wants to send you.
Plan activities that are not food based. What else would you enjoy? A trip to the farm to cut down your own tree? A hayride? A train ride? A walk through the mall to see the decorations? A drive around the neighborhood to look at the lights? Is there anything you always wanted to do at this time of the year, and just never did it? (It seemed silly, or others would judge you etc.) Plan to do it! It will make you happy, and cross an item off your bucket list!
Plan your food. Go to the grocery store now and buy as many staples as you can, so you’ll run out less often. (Don’t forget toilet paper, shampoo, and paper towels!) Try frozen fruits and vegetables, make a pot of your favorite entrée and freeze it for emergencies, and set up your kitchen to make life easier. Plan out what you are going to do each day. For example, Tuesday I will take the turkey out and thaw it, I will bag up several metabolics; I will make 2 meatloaves and freeze one. Once you did those three or four things on your list, then it’s time to relax! Don’t do everything in one day!
Pay attention to the timing of your meals. Do not allow yourself to go more than five hours without eating; do not let yourself get over hungry; that will only make you tired and cranky. Always expect there to be a delay in eating time; have an extra metabolic if you need to; even if you are not “normally” supposed to have a metabolic at that time.
When you are invited to holiday events, call ahead and ask what food will be served. Make sure you will have what you need, and take something to share if what the host is offering is not appropriate.
Create your own personal nonfood agenda for the events you attend. Why are you going? To see your Mom and make her feel good? To check out Cousin Paul’s new wife? To network with people with whom you want to work? What do you want to accomplish? Prepare an answer for those who ask, “Can’t you have just one?” Try responses like, “Not this year” or “Not right now” or just, “No, thank you.” You are not required to explain your choices.
Giving up things like the special holiday meals and desserts can feel painful and even seem impossible at times. Food is an even bigger part of our culture than alcohol. Set aside the words “giving up” and think about getting what you really want. “That just does not work for me anymore” will be hard the first three times you say it. The thought of not being able to join in and eat the foods along with everyone else may seem insurmountable at times. Realize, you are looking at a higher good, a better life, and ask your friends and HP to help you. The first few times are the hardest, but you have bigger goals.
Not all holiday events may be pleasant. Let yourself skip or shorten the events that may disturb you. Decide if you need to go on time and leave when it’s over, or early, and leave early, or go late, and enjoy the afterglow. Plan for some rest time after these emotional events. You may need time to recover and time to process your feelings. Bookend these events with phone calls to trusted people, journal time, prayer time, or a meeting.
Reach out to your support network and increase it if you need to. Set up more time for those people and activities that make you feel whole and strong. Allow extra time for your recovery program. When you need help, give yourself permission to ask for it.
Put good stuff in your life. Write yourself a letter and tell yourself all the good things you have accomplished this year. Thank your body for the hard work it has done this year to maintain itself and to do the things you wanted to do. Thank yourself for your hard work and acknowledge how much you have grown.
There are some people you ought to send a special message to. Who went out of their way to help you this year? Who set aside their own choices and stood behind you when you needed it? Find an appropriate way to say thank you.
As you move through your holidays you may notice regrets or things you have not done, or things you want to do. Make a list so that at the beginning of the New Year you can decide and plan to make 2024 the kind of year that you want it to be. Each day of our lives is precious, try to stay present and enjoy.
I hope these ideas will help you truly have a happy and healthy holiday season. I’ll be available through most of the holiday season; if you need an “extra dose of Theresa,” please be welcome to call.
P.S. You just survived another five minutes of the holidays! Congratulations!
Blessings to you,