Add Sparkle to Your July 4th: 9 Tips for Managing Your Eating Disorder This Independence Day

July 4th Fireworks
By NEDA Staff

July 4th is meant to be a time of celebration and enjoying time with the people you care about. However, if you have an eating disorder and are in recovery the holiday can be stressful and present challenges.

Here are nine tips to make sure this July 4th is a step forward in your recovery. 

Seek Out Support Before the Celebrations Start

Find a friend, family member, or other support person you can trust to help you make it through the day. This is someone who knows where you are in your recovery and is willing to help build you up.

Confide in your support person before the day and talk through your concerns. Use them as a shoulder to lean on if/when you find yourself struggling to cope with any situation, person, or activity. 

Make a Plan to Manage the Stress

Much of the stress surrounding holidays like July 4th can be fear of the unknown. During the recovery process, it can be especially useful to try and focus on all the good things that could possibly happen. 

However, the holidays can involve many stressful situations so it can be difficult to stay positive. To manage this stress, connect with your support person and create a plan for the day. 

Start by asking yourself: 

  • What is on the agenda? 
  • What about the day’s events may challenge your recovery?  
  • How can I access support if needed? 
  • Who will be there that may be able to help in a difficult moment?

Discuss any concerns about the day with your support person and work together to think through the best solutions.

Take Breaks When You Need Them

Holidays can be long and exhausting. July 4th is no different. 

Not only because it will be full of activities and, most likely, sun and heat, but because it can use lots of mental energy to take care of yourself. Be prepared to give yourself a break here and there throughout the day. 

Grab a snack or a drink and sit down to enjoy the moment – alone if you need to. So often, we forget to really live in the moment. 

Let this be an opportunity to reflect on what you need to support your recovery. 

group of people on rock writing sunset scenery

Wear What Makes You Feel Comfortable

Summer clothing is often more revealing and can be made of fabrics that cling to the body. This can be triggering for someone who has an eating disorder. 

We all have that comfy shirt or pair of shorts/pants that we feel more confident in. Wear that. Wear what is most comfortable to YOU! 

Who cares if it’s not red, white, and blue?! What matters is that you feel at ease in your outfit and able to enjoy yourself. 

If you’re having trouble deciding what to wear, ask your support person to help you out. 

Be Flexible and Lean on Support

After putting together a plan that feels comfortable and doable to you, keep in mind that sometimes plans change or don’t work out the way you’d like. It’s important to stay flexible in these moments.

Remember that small, unexpected changes don’t have to dictate the rest of your day. Rather than letting it turn into a negative experience, you can work through the difficult feelings that unexpected change can trigger and enjoy the rest of your day. 

Talk it through with your support person. That’s what they are there for!

Pay Attention to How You’re Feeling

Being self-aware on this day is a great way to practice taking care of yourself. Ask yourself:

  • How are you feeling?
  • Are you tired/hungry/thirsty? 
  • Do you need a break? 

Listen to your body and your emotions, and act accordingly. Take care of yourself. 

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… especially during the holidays. 

Stress and struggle are not signs of weakness, nor do they have to throw you into a shut-down.

Focus on Experiences and Connection

As we all know, eating disorders can take up a lot of mental energy. We can become consumed with thoughts of food and body image that influence how we see ourselves and the world around us. 

Instead of letting these thoughts and beliefs take over your day, imagine how you’d want your July 4th to go in terms of connecting with others or creating a new tradition and work towards that goal.

Have Fun! 

Most importantly, add sparkle to your July 4th in whatever way nourishes you the most. Whether it’s celebrating with a small group, going to a big party, or watching the fireworks from home, you deserve to enjoy the day in whatever way supports your recovery most!

Find Help and Support

Are you concerned you might be struggling with an eating disorder? Take our confidential screening tool

Are you looking for an eating disorder treatment provider? Find treatment in your area or online.

Are financial barriers preventing you from seeking the support you need? Learn more about free and low cost support options to connect with others and provide tools to promote recovery.

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