National Eating Disorders Association

10 Ways to Add Sparkle to your Fourth of July

NEDA Communications Team

A celebration of Independence from ED! Here are 10 tips to make sure your Fourth of July is a step forward in your recovery.  1. Make a plan- Most of the stress surrounding holidays is the fear of the unknown. Come together with your support system and create a plan for the day. What is on the agenda? When will you be eating? Who will be there? At most times, it is best to find the strength in the unknown, especially during recovery, but on a holiday where the stress is developed from many other issues it is best to have it all (if not, most) figured out. Discuss with your support system worries you’ve developed and work together to find the best solutions. Make an exit plan and discuss the best way to cope with any triggers, but be open to change.
2. Choose a buddy- Support. Support. Support. Find a friend or family member you can trust in for the day to help you accomplish the holiday. Use them as a shoulder to lean on when you find yourself struggling through the notions. Confide in this person before the day and voice your concerns. This is the perfect person to create a plan with. As Proud2BMe blogger Katrin Alyss calls it, find your “recovery teammate”. Someone who knows that you are in recovery and is willing to help build you up. 
3. Find ways to create distractions- This can be especially easy for the Fourth, because there can be so much to do. You know what will be triggering and worrisome to you, so find the best way to take your mind off the situation and onto the next. If you’re with friends or family, play a game- it can be outdoors, like volleyball, catch or giant Jenga! Look up some fun games and bring them to the Fourth outing. Do what you can to keep yourself from the people and things that will be of most trouble to yourself. 
4. Give yourself breaks- It is going to be a long, exhausting day. Not only because it will be full of activities and most likely sun, but because of the mental energy it will have consumed. If you are in recovery, this holiday will most likely cause worry to you not days, but weeks building up to the event. With that being said, give yourself a break here and there. Grab a snack or a drink and sit down to enjoy the moment. So often, we forget to really live in the moment. Let this be the opportunity to sit back and take it all in. 
5. Wear something comfortable- summer clothing can be triggering to a person in recovery. They are more revealing and can be made of fabrics that cling or grab to the body. They are structured different than winter or fall clothes! However, we all have that comfy shirt or pair of shorts/pants that we feel best in. So, who cares if it’s not red or white?! Wear what is most comfortable to YOU! Your outfit should be the least of your worries. If you’re having trouble, ask your recovery teammate to help you out to prevent any out of the blue break downs. 
6. Be flexible- After putting together a plan that is fit and reassuring to you, be aware that the plans might be up for a change. Sometimes things don’t work out as they’re supposed to. The grocery store might be out of hot dog buns, but you prepared yourself for that bun. Stay flexible. Remember that this small change shouldn’t dictate the rest of your day. This could be an amazing challenge to conquer as part of your recovery. Its baby steps. Again, confide in your recovery teammate. That’s what they are there for! 
7. Pay attention to how you’re feeling- In a way being selfish on this day is a way of surviving. Ask yourself how you are feeling. Are you tired/hungry/thirsty? Do you need a break to yourself? Listen to your emotions, not ED, and take action in them. Take care of yourself. 
8. Take healthy control- Eating disorders have a lot to do with control. Instead of letting the control of food and negative thoughts conquer your day, control instead how you imagine the Fourth of July. Rather than focusing on the stress of the food, focus on the people and relationships surrounding you. The Ranch Mental Health Center says to “think of parties and meals as opportunities to connect with others, rather than as food conflicts”. 
9. Acknowledge your stress- This goes along with paying attention to how you feel. Part of recovery is acknowledging there is stress and there is a struggle. This is not a sign of weakness, nor a sign to shut down. Talk to your recovery teammate about your concerns. This is normal. 
10. Have fun- the most important way to add sparkle to your Fourth. Don’t allow ED to be invited to your party.