Twice a year, for my birthday and New Year’s Eve, the passing of another year lights a flame under my inner critic’s ass, launching me into a merciless critique of my life to date.
My gruelling report misses no beats, assessing every success, shortcoming and failure. Weight. Money. Job. Love life. Mental and physical health. Social life. Proximity to life goals. Congruency with childhood dreams. Influence in my community. Impact on selfless world issues like hunger, homelessness and war.
Unbound perfectionism has its costs. Namely, shame and anxiety, two feelings that like to culminate in one, bulging feeling of fat.
One peek at a gym in January tells me I’m not alone in channeling life’s frustrations into a self-deprecating weight-loss regime.
The Christmas holidays’ combined forces of family time and banquet-style meals distress many people. For the recovering eating disorder patient, it can be a downright terror.
Fear does many things, including making us more likely to spend money in an attempt to remedy our fear. This is why it’s in marketers’ best interests to focus on a fearful weight-loss mentality, to the exclusion of other, less tangible holiday stressors like family dysfunction and being a perfectionist.
While the mainstream focus on this year’s shrewdest ways to avoid calories and pounds, it is my prerogative to enter 2014 unburdened by guilt, and ready to continue in my recovery.
Here is a list of tips we reviewed at the ED clinic to prepare ourselves for triggering situations this Christmas.
The ED-Conscious Guide to Psychologically Surviving The Holidays
1. Have a “crisis line” list of friends to call in the event of an upsetting family event. Stowing away bad feelings can trigger all kinds of harmful behaviours, so pick up the phone and let it out.
2. Prepare responses to intrusive questions and comments from friends, coworkers and family. When dealing with especially pushy people, prepare a bottom line to repeat over and over. This is called the broken-record technique, and it puts up a firm wall against unwanted conversation.
3. Take food one meal at a time. Do not under-eat to compensate for big meals, a strategy that can result in excessive hunger and binging.
4. Plan for feelings of discomfort around fullness. If you have body and diet anxieties, it’s likely you will feel uncomfortably full at some point this Christmas. That’s okay. It’s normal, and it will pass.
5. Plan to allow yourself treats and extras, because it is socially and psychologically healthy.
6. Don’t weigh yourself. If you gain weight over the holidays it won’t be very much, and your body will rebalance on its own.
Merry Christmas to everyone. I’ll let you know how things go in the new year.