“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, nothing more.”
The holidays are challenging for people struggling with, and in recovery from, eating disorders and I don’t think it really matters how long a person has been in recovery–the holidays can be rough. Food, and tons of it, at every gathering and family members who are either talking about their own diet and work out regimen or commenting on the progress of the person in recovery. Sometimes it is difficult to tune out the diet talk or know how to handle comments about recovery, but that is why it is of the utmost importance to be mindful and present at all times.
Christmas is right around the corner, closely followed by New Year’s and those *wonderful* resolutions. We are about to be spammed more than usual with diets, before and after photos of half naked people praising the latest boot camp style at home workouts, and the pushing of gym memberships. Not only that, but this year my 30th birthday happens to be sandwiched between the two. Yep. The big 3-0 in two weeks. Talk about time to practice being mindful and present at all times! It can really be challenging to stay mindful but here are some tips on how I plan to do it and you can always use them too…
- Yoga, deep breathing. These are always my go-to for mindfulness and bringing myself back to the present. I live on a sailboat in South Carolina where the weather has grown chilly and doing morning yoga outside isn’t really an option and neither is doing yoga in a very small space; therefore I don’t get to do this one as often as I like anymore but even a few simple poses can help. Take time on the morning of a gathering to do a quick 10-minute sun salutation to start your day and get yourself into the right frame of mind to deal with negativity and diet talk. Clear your head and throughout the practice remind yourself that you are enough and you are beautiful exactly as you are in this moment. Find things you appreciate about your body and speak them gently to yourself. Once you reach the gathering take a few moments before going inside to breathe deeply for five breaths and again remind yourself that you are enough and there are many wonderful things about you. If you find yourself struggling with anxiety during a gathering take a step back in a quiet room and repeat the deep breathing exercises.
- Power Playlist. I love music. It is huge motivator and mood changer for me so I have playlists ranging from caribbean/reggae, Christian, to recovery oriented positive playlists. Depending on my mood I select something to help lift it. Typically the recovery positive playlist is my go-to when driving to gatherings or places where I know anxiety will automatically increase. Singing the songs in the car helps immensely to bring myself into the present moment. Listening to my recovery positive playlist helps me feel empowered, strong, and prepared to deal with any eating disorder thoughts that pop in my head.
- Small Reminders. I have a thin rubber bracelet that says “Beautiful Body Acceptance” on it that I wear often. Earlier this week I received an e-mail from a treatment professional who said she loaned her BBA bracelet to a client over Thanksgiving to help bring about mindfulness in times of stress. While not everyone has a BBA bracelet there may be a small piece of jewelry you can look at to remind yourself that you are beautiful, unique, and your body is something to be loved and appreciated. Maybe it is a small silver wave ring or bangle to remind you to let the emotions roll over you like waves, acknowledging them but not being taken under by them. The same could be said of an ocean blue colored piece of jewelry or something with sea glass. However, the sea is not calming to everyone (I love it and practically live on it, as I live on a sailboat) but surely there is something that could help remind you to acknowledge the emotions but not be swept away by them. Be creative!
There are so many ways to be mindful and bring yourself back to the present during the holidays. The most important thing is to remind yourself that you need to take time for self care. Constantly being around others can take a toll on anyone, but especially someone who is trying to recover from an eating disorder. Anxiety, stress, worry, and the eating disorder voice and take over at any moment which is why it is so very important to remember to take time for mindfulness. Experience joy this Christmas season by believing that you are worthy, loved, and beautiful just as you are. Take time to breathe and remember why you are fighting so hard for recovery.
With Body Love,