Coping with an ED, or the issues relate to one, can be especially tough over the festive period, and its not just because of the food. The few days that surround Christmas Day itself can often have a total lack of structure and routine. No one knows what day it is, meals times roll into one big turkey sandwich and there seems to be no escaping to have just have a few minutes to yourself.
Christmas 2012 wasn’t a good one for me. I was in early recovery and fearful of most foods. I bought about 8 different boxes of mince pies just in case I should want one- some were low fat, some were low sugar, some were low cal. I ended up not even eating one. It was also then that I realised how much I craved and needed routine at that point. Eating at certain times, eating food I felt ‘safe,’ being able to train when I usually trained, knowing I could go to the shops if I suddenly ran out of a food I ‘needed.’ Having usually LOVED Christmas that year I was glad when it was all over. I was glad to get back to work, I was glad to get back to my routine, I was glad to have my ‘normal’ foods, no expectation of what I felt I should eat.
On the flip side, sometimes having no routine can actually be good, it challenges you and takes you out of your comfort zone. Its also a chance for you to realise you can do other things, which previously you may not have done. Holidays can be a good example of this. I guess the thing with Christmas is that it sometimes feels you have no control over your ‘routine’ and that’s actually the main issue. Things I find helpful at this time of year:
- Create your own routine. Days may not be as they usually are but you can still make a routine for these random days around Christmas day. Also, if it’s YOU creating the routine, it reiterates that YOU are still in control.
- By all means sleep in or go to bed later but again, if it helps, keep to your normal times. When I’m working I’m usually up anytime between 5-6am. In all honesty I can’t say I’ll be getting up at 5am next week but I’ll probably wake between 6.30-7am anyway. Being the crazy girl I am, I’ll probably be going to bed earlier than usual, which my eye bags will thank me for.
- Mealtimes and routine can be huge for someone with an ED. I remember a point when I couldn’t eat lunch any time other than 1pm. If you still struggle with this, and know you’re going to be out of sync, make up for it where you can. By this I mean eat other meals and snacks at the usual times.
- Get away from everyone! Create an hour, or even 30minutes when you can just get some headspace- take the dog on a walk, go and get a coffee, go for a drive, anything at all that helps calm your mind. Being surrounded by people, especially when trying to eat, or make choices around food, can be hugely stressful. If you’re out for a meal and everything gets a bit much, nip to the toilet, take a few minutes, compose yourself and your thoughts, remember its just ONE meal and then go back to the table and try and enjoy peoples company- even meals out aren’t just about the food.
- Keep an evening free every few days, even if you then end up doing something, sometimes it’s good to see the light at the end of the tunnel. When everything is a bit manic, it makes me feel better to see I have an evening in coming up/
- Breathe! Obviously pretty essential but when I find it all getting a bit too much, a few big breathes actually do help. Put your hand on your heart, feel you chest go up and down, in through you nose, out through your mouth, 5 seconds in, 5 seconds out.
I guess the main thing, as I said on my other post is to remember this is just a few days. Embrace the changes, push yourself but don’t scare yourself. Enjoy the time with loved ones, these days come and go so quickly, and it’s only after the event we wished we enjoyed it more. You can’t get time back, sadly, but if you do feel it’s all too much and your brain is a moooosh, don’t berate yourself for it. When you feel good, be happy and proud about that, but if you don’t feel so great, know that many feel the same at this time of year. Any positive steps, no matter how small, are an achievement and something to be proud of.