Celebrations and festivals can be exciting, but if you experience disordered eating or an eating disorder, you may feel worried or stressed about them too.
We’ve put together six top tips to help you manage holidays and celebrations.
Find other positives
If food can feel overwhelming, can you find another aspect of the occasion that’s meaningful and enjoyable for you? You could celebrate with decorations, spend time with people you care about, or tune in to songs or music.
Speak to the people you’ll spend time with and see whether you can invent some new traditions that aren’t related to food. You may want to plan something for times you’re likely to find especially challenging (such as just before or after a meal).
Give yourself a break
Different things work for different people, but it’s a good idea to think of some things that may help you relax away from the hustle and bustle of the main event.
You could head outside for some fresh air, watch TV or read a favourite book, or even volunteer to do the washing up!
Use coping skills
You probably know what helps you most when you’re stressed or overwhelmed. Do what you can to make it easier to access helpful ways of coping.
For example, you could fill a box with sensory items and things that are calming or distracting. Why not prepare some helpful statements that you can look at if things feel especially tricky?
Ask for support
If you’re spending the holiday with supportive friends or family, let them know how they can help you. Could they support you by reminding people not to chat about triggering topics (or just moving the conversation on if they come up)?
Some people find it useful to have a way to subtly show that they could do with a break or a chat. For example, you could discretely send a text or play with a fidget toy so someone can see.
If you’re feeling unsure about asking for specific support, you could show someone this list to start a conversation.
Make a rough plan
Changes to routine can be unsettling. Some people find it helpful to talk to the people they’ll spend time with so they can make a rough plan that helps them know what to expect.
You might want to talk about who’ll be there and what you’ll do, as well as chatting about food itself.
Do you want to have a practice meal, or try some foods that are part of the celebration in advance so it’s less overwhelming on the day? Do you need to decide who’ll be responsible for portioning and serving the food?
Remember there’s always someone to talk to
Beat are there to support people who have or are worried they have an eating disorder, as well as other people affected by eating disorders, such as friends and family. You can find out about the support they offer on the Beat website.
You can find more help and support by clicking on ‘Get help now’ at the top of the Best For You website.