Despite the picture-perfect scenes the Hallmark channel shoves in our faces each December, the holidays are filled with hard emotions for most people. The pandemic adds even new stressors to an already difficult time. Because of limitations on travel and social distancing, many people will be alone this holiday season.
Humans are social creatures and connection with others helps us thrive. When recovering from an eating disorder, support is a key factor in your journey.
If you are going to be alone this holiday season, it does not have to break your recovery journey.
Some Tips to Survive Being Alone
Allow yourself to experience your feelings
It is completely normal to experience many mixed feelings if you are alone for the holidays. Perhaps you feel sad and nostalgic about traditions you cannot participate in this year. You may also feel a sense of relief because you won’t have to face the typical family pressures, unwanted comments, and judgments from loved ones. Anger is also a feeling many people face as we head into yet another month of a pandemic.
Any feelings you are experiencing are valid. When we add judgment on top of what we are already feeling, this only adds suffering. Remind yourself that it is human nature to feel many mixed feelings, and you are not alone in this experience.
Fighting your feelings by pushing them down or using eating disorder behaviors will not make the feelings go away.
Instead of denying or pushing down your feelings, allow yourself to experience them. Remember that emotions come in waves and will not last forever. Learning to tolerate difficult emotions is a vital part of recovery from an eating disorder. Remember, you are strong enough to get through even the most difficult moments. And they will not last forever.
Reach out to others for support
This December looks extremely different than most years. Thankfully technology has made it possible to connect in creative ways. Try setting up a time to Facetime, video chat, or Zoom with your loved ones. Communicating through email and text are also options.
Consider going old school and write letters to the important people in your life. Sharing your favorite memories of them along with your gratitude for the role they play in your life can help you and your loved ones feel connected emotionally even though you may be apart physically.
Curl up with a good book
Reading is an excellent coping skill. A fun novel can provide an escape, while an insightful self-help book can be a catalyst for growth. Pick up that book beside your bed you have been wanting to read for so long. Or check out our list of 6 Books to Gift Yourself this Holiday for some other book ideas.
Being alone this holiday season means you have more time to dive into creative projects. Consider picking up a paintbrush, try your hand at sketching, or express yourself through journaling.
While you may not be able to attend an art class right now, have you ever searched the internet for free “how to” videos?
Even if you do not consider yourself “artistic”, recovery is about exploring different parts of yourself and trying new things.
Allow yourself to rest
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be exhausting. Recovering from an eating disorder and surviving in a culture obsessed with dieting takes consistent vigilance. We all need and deserve downtime to rest and recharge.
Give yourself permission to rest your body, mind, and soul.
Curl up with your favorite movie, take a hot bubble bath, or spend a day in your pajamas. Give yourself permission to relax and recharge.
Create your own traditions
If you are alone this holiday, you may feel disconnected from the traditions you typically participate in. If it does not feel right to continue these traditions alone, get creative, and make some new ones.
The bright side of being alone is you get to choose whatever you do this year.
Prepare your favorite meal, play the music you enjoy, and watch whatever it is YOU like to watch on tv. Consider some of your favorite ways to spend time. Are there any hobbies or activities that you lose track of time when you engage in? Plan to spend an evening or even a week allowing yourself to explore your interests and enjoying your favorite past times.
Find online support
There are many ways to find support on the internet. Remember that it is up to you to curate your newsfeed on social media. Choose only to follow people that inspire you and your recovery. Unfollow anyone that makes you feel down on yourself. Dive into articles online, follow accounts with diverse bodies, and educate yourself on the HAES (Health At Every Size movement) and body liberation.
Get out that recovery toolbox
Recovering from an eating disorder requires the use of many tools. Dig out that toolbox and utilize the skills you have learned. Make a list of all the reasons you want to recover. Write out everything you are grateful for. Utilize a meal plan if you have one. Focus on some goals for the new year. If you find yourself in difficult moments, pull out the tools that have helped you get this far into recovery.
Remember this warrior
Even if you are alone physically this year for the holidays- remember that you are not the only person alone.
You are a strong warrior and you will get through this time.
Perhaps even stronger than ever.