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Building New Holiday Traditions in Eating Disorder Recovery

The holidays are marked by traditions to celebrate a season of joy and to create memories with the family and friends we love. But what if you’ve struggled with an eating disorder? The experiences that others may enjoy this time of year can be stressful and overwhelming. Eating disorders are complex illnesses that can strip away the things that we often take for granted, like our health, mentality clarity, or even something as simple as enjoying the holidays with loved ones.

Eating Disorder Recovery Brings Hope

The good news is that the story doesn’t have to end there. Finding long-lasting recovery from an eating disorder brings hope, the possibility for change, and the opportunity to start again. If you’re feeling discouraged that you’ve missed out on holiday seasons in the past because of your eating disorder, know that you can rewrite your story by building new holiday traditions through your recovery journey.

If you’re tired of missing out on the holiday memories and creating the moments that matter most, it’s time to believe that recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Your recovery journey can begin now, in the middle of a busy holiday season, no matter what your past has been or where you might find yourself today. The important thing to understand is that you do not walk alone. Connecting to the help and support you need is a foundational component to finding lasting recovery.

As you work through your healing journey and experience the different seasons of your life without the stronghold of an eating disorder, understand that this process takes patience, nurturing, and time. Learning how to navigate the holidays with a renewed perspective of eating disorder recovery can be made easier when focusing on these main things:

  • Be Kind to Yourself: The moments and memories that may have been lost to an eating disorder can feel devastating. You may feel guilty for a strained relationship with a loved one or for creating a point of tension during a family gathering. You may worry that your struggle has caused angst for the people in your life who truly care about you. It’s important to remember that the eating disorder is not your fault. Eating disorders are a complex illness that are influenced by many different factors that were not in your control or of your choosing. Give yourself an extra measure of grace as you go through the process of rebuilding traditions, memories, and relationships with loved ones.
  • Stay Grounded in the Present: “Life is available only in the present moment. If you abandon the present moment, you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply.” – Thich Nhat Hanh. Sometimes in eating disorder recovery, it can be easy to get stuck in a painful past or wrapped up in worry with anticipation of the future. While past reflections and planning for the future can be helpful, be careful not to lose sight of the moments you have available to you today. When you become overwhelmed, ask yourself: “What is the next best thing you can do for yourself and your ongoing recovery today? Where are the people and places in your life presently that you can focus your time, attention, and efforts in rebuilding and nurturing holiday traditions?” If you find yourself distracted with remorse about the past or caught up in the “what-ifs” about the future, practice centering yourself in the present moments you are experiencing now. Life is lived in the present, and these are the opportunities to focus on for rebuilding traditions in your recovery.
  • Be Realistic with your Expectations: Understanding your expectations for your eating disorder recovery versus where you may currently be on your journey is helpful for many reasons. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself and want to return to a sense of normalcy in your life, but it’s important to not force yourself into situations prematurely. This is especially true during the holiday season. For example, if you’re not quite ready to travel for the holidays or go too far away from home and your routine, that is perfectly okay. Maybe you’re not comfortable facing certain family members or ready to eat beyond the structure of your meal plan. That’s okay, too. In due time, you will make progress getting to where you want to be. For the present, know that you can still enjoy the holiday season while doing what is necessary to protect your ongoing recovery efforts. As with the process of rebuilding your life in recovery, time is necessary for growth and progress. If you’re not quite where you want to be on your journey, that doesn’t mean you’re failing. Acknowledge your progress while giving yourself space and permission to be where you are now.

Wherever you are on your recovery journey this holiday season, know that you are not alone and that you deserve to experience the fullness of all that life has to offer. By being committed to your progress and treatment, you are ensuring that your story is defined by the freedom and hope that comes with recovery.

From our team at The Meadows Ranch, we wish you the Happiest Holiday season. If you are in need of more support and compassionate care for eating disorder recovery, please connect with our team today.