For some of us, when the first house on the block puts up their holiday lights, it’s a time for celebration – it’s a time to indulge in savory baked goods, flowing holiday cocktails, and a 24-hour long lineup of guilty pleasure Christmas movies. For others, it’s a time to aloofly remember just how imperfect their lives have become.
This food-centric season can be painfully difficult – and not just for those in eating disorder recovery. With social media channels highlighting only the happiest, Hallmark-worthy moments of other “more perfect” families, it’s dreadfully easy to fall into a dangerous downward spiral of loneliness and depression. The good news is, though, that we each have control over who and what influences our mental health this holiday season. Instead of focusing on losing weight, here are six things you should trim over the next few weeks:
1. The calorie-counting
I know this is a huge deal for someone struggling with disordered eating, but each calorie you count this holiday season is going to send you deeper into ED’s ditch. Counting calories is tedious and time-consuming, and the holidays are supposed to be a time of relaxing and spending time with friends – not with ED.
2. The isolation
I remember wanting to just hide away during the holidays and wait for everything to be over, but self-isolating is the worst thing you can do. Look around you; people are excited to go home and see their loved ones. Try to focus on the love and warmth the holidays bring, rather than your perceived expectations. Your family and friends aren’t waiting to assess your body and be entertained by you. They just want to spend time with you!
3. The fortune-telling
By this, I mean the thought process of predicting how everything is going to happen this holiday season and how it’s all going to fall apart and leave you miserable. You don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, but if you expect the worst, you won’t have any fun. So instead, try living in the moment, not your make-believe future scenario. If one day you are baking cookies with friends, then live in that moment. Engage your senses and be there. Don’t fast-forward in your mind (and don’t flip back to the past, either). You are here right now, and that’s wonderful!
4. The toxic influences
With a new year right around the corner, probably the best early resolution you can make is to part ways with anyone who isn’t an undeniably positive influence. Value your mental and emotional health by identifying stressors and cutting ties with that friend or romantic interest who finds joy or comfort in bringing you down—during the holidays and thereafter.
5. The obsessive social media checking
Something else to consider ditching this holiday season would be social media. Quitting social media might seem impossible, but often times taking a break from it can help your mood. If you have family and friends that you can physically be in the presence of and use social media to keep in contact, try evaluating the social media that you are holding on to. Do you have pictures of old friendships that cause you upset when you see them, or people who post things that also upset you? Clean out your photos album and unlike, defriend, or unfollow those people! Facebook even allows you to be able to stop seeing someone’s post without unfriending them. Take a break this holiday and see how social media might be hurting you.
6. The pressure to have it all
If you feel like your life is a mess, and it’s inhibiting your ability to enjoy the wonderful things that make the holidays so special, remember this sentiment—you’re not supposed to have it all figured out. Life is a journey, and if you have all the answers, how can you possibly grow? You are right where you’re supposed to be, and you are worthy, loved, and enough. So have fun. Play. Smile. Dance. Let yourself feel and express the joy of life.
This content was originally published on Proud2bme.org in 2017.