Complimenting on appearance might seem harmless, but to someone battling an eating disorder it is terrifying and can be a trigger. Here are different ways to positively connect over the holidays.
In Part 1 of this series I broke the news to you that holidays are stressful (you're welcome!) and I took you through some ways to lengthen your emotional fuse by take care of your physical self. So now that you're treating any illness, eating balanced, working out regularly, sleeping well, and avoiding cigarettes and coffee (right!?! we're all skill ninjas on that front, right!?!? good!). So this time I'm gonna give some more skills to make you more psychologically resilient. These aren't one and done, quick fix, cure all's. But, if done regularly, they can help you ride out the emotional shit storms that come around.
- Build mastery. It's hard to feel confident and grounded when everything in your day feels incomplete or stressful or too challenging. Do at least one thing a day that makes you feel confident and competent. For me, it's making my bed or playing a game of "words with friends" or checking off an errand on a to-do list.
- Practice gratitude. Studies have repeatedly proven the psychological benefits of gratitude on mood and cognition. You can write it down or say it out loud, but don't just keep it in your head. I like writing down 5-10 gratitude every morning but doing a less structured and more spontaneous practice works too.
- Breathe deeply. Breathing calms the nervous system and promotes ability to think clearly and process events and emotions. Often we go about our day on auto pilot, not breathing well. Breathing deeply roots you in the present moment. You know you're breathing deeply if you can hear the air come in and out of your nose and if you can feel your belly rise and fall with each inhalation and exhalation.
- Laugh. You don't have to, but you can. And if you can, why not!?! Laughing doesn't mean everything's ok. It simply means you're embracing the lite and fun and silly parts of life too. So watch that funny show, listen to your favorite comedian, call your funny friend, watch ridiculous YouTube videos of babies cracking up at cats falling down...Whatever it is that helps you get your laugh on, go for it!
And, if you need more help, please contact us. We'd love to support you and your family.
News flash: The holidays are stressful! Duh! You're gonna need as long an emotional fuse as you can get to manage family, friends, work, shopping, and all the emotions that this time of year can dig up. Here's part one of two, on how to build your emotional resiliency. These suggestions are based on Marsha Linehan's DIalectical Behavior Therapy skills. This set addresses ways to keep your outer warrior (your body) strong so it can protect and serve your inner warrior (your heart and mind).
- Treat physical illness. This is not a time to just suck it up, walk it off, and pretend you're superhuman. If you are physically run down, you are more susceptible to being emotionally run down. So take those vitamins, get lots of water and rest, see the doctor sooner than later.
- Eat moderately and healthfully. If you're on a strict diet or if you're over-indulging on the regular, you will be more likely to have big, overwhelming emotions. No need to feel sluggish and bloated or deprived and hangry on top of other holiday stressors.
- Avoid/limit mood altering substances. Unlike the air traffic controller in "Airplane", the holidays are the EXACT right time to quit sniffing glue! Haha. But seriously, while nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, marijuana may help in the moment, they can keep you from appropriately managing your emotions, give you a false sense of your energy, and leave you more frazzled and less grounded in the long run.
- Get moving. Moderate physical exercise can be a way to distract, unwind, breathe deeply, and release stress. Bonus points if you move in nature, move mindfully, and practice gratitude for your body while you're getting a workout in.
- Get enough sleep. There's a million things to do and not enough time to do it. Trust me, I get it. And, to be able to participate as fully and meaningfully in the activities and not burn out early, sleep is important. Try to get in a routine, focus on sleep hygiene, and prioritize sleep.
You won't/ can't be perfect at all this. That's not even the point. The point is: when possible, be as thoughtful as you can be about protecting (and lengthening, when possible) that emotional fuse.