Navigating the holidays solo without resorting to past eating disorder behaviours
While the festive season can be a time for connecting with loved ones, deepening relationships, and spending quality time with friends and family, for those of us who are unable to spend it with those we love, it can be pretty lonely. Whether you’re unable to surround yourself with family due to lingering Covid restrictions, you’re separated by distance, you’re experiencing grief or navigating the loss of a loved one, or even if it’s disordered behaviours keeping you isolated these holidays, you’re not alone in feeling lonely.
Remember, feeling lonely isn’t necessarily a bad thing… It’s simply a signal to reach out to a loved one, or reconnect with yourself. It’s how you act on feelings of loneliness that matters.
During times of loneliness and isolation, it can be all too tempting to resort to old, detrimental behaviours and patterns in an attempt to bury the emotions you’re experiencing. Especially if you don’t have people around you, observing your eating habits, and making sure you’re taking care of yourself, you might find yourself falling down the rabbit hole back into the land of disordered habits.
But don’t surrender, or allow this to happen! There are ways to stay stronger than the nagging eating disorder voice in your head. We’re sharing our top strategies for resisting the temptation, so you can stay on track with your recovery goals, even through times of turmoil.
1. Remember your “why” even when no one is there to hold you accountable.
Often it’s easier to rely on those around you to act as your motivation. They encourage you to make choices aligned with your recovery goals, and pull you up when you’re not sticking to your commitments. A lot of the time, you choose to recover for other people too – to make the lives of your loved ones easier, to be able to go out to dinner with them without being an inconvenience, to set a good example for your kids, to feel more energised so you can show up for your family and friends.
So if you find yourself alone at the holidays, suddenly you might feel as though there’s no reason to fight back against the disordered eating voice in your head. If you feel as though you’re lacking in motivation, or as though recovering for yourself isn’t enough to make you stay committed, ask yourself this: what is the eating disorder keeping you from? And what are you gaining from listening to the eating disorder voice?
The truth is, eating disorders keep you from truly living, condemning you to merely “existing”. You can’t be fully present with loved ones, or form the deep connections you would otherwise. You can’t act with spontaneity or freedom, your mind is largely occupied by thoughts of food and exercise, and you don’t have the energy to truly make the most of every day, or to show up for the people you love.
And what is the eating disorder giving you? Well, it’s keeping you numb… Is that really a gift? Or is that robbery, taking the highest of highs away from you, as well as the moments of pure joy and love and connection. While emotions and life may be scary and challenging, they’re also beautiful and liberating. So remember this reason to recover – let this WHY fuel you to make choices aligned with recovery for yourself, not for anyone else. Because you deserve to fully recover for yourself.
Be stronger than the temptation of the disordered voice. Choose to nourish yourself and your body.
2. Schedule a video call with a friend or loved one.
Set aside your Zoom fatigue for the day, and schedule a video call with a loved one on Christmas day. Whether it’s a five minute or five hour chat, simply seeing the face of someone you love and sharing a laugh creates a special moment and memory for you this Christmas.
While eating disorders can sometimes make you feel isolated and alone, we encourage you to take the time during this call to be really open, honest and raw with whoever you’re speaking to. Share something with them that perhaps you haven’t been open about before – whether that’s something you’re struggling with, something you’re aiming for, or even something about your disordered eating experiences. You might surprise yourself with the depth of connection, gratitude and love you can feel when you allow yourself to open up and truly connect with someone you love.
3. Make the most of your “me” time.
Next time you’re feeling positive and upbeat, we challenge you to write a list of things that really fill up your cup, and bring you joy and happiness. Make it as comprehensive as you can!
Then, over the holidays, whenever you’re feeling lonely, isolated, or low, incorporate one or more of these things into your day. They can be as simple as enjoying a hot cup of coffee, or watching an episode of your favourite Netflix show, or more extensive like completing a yoga flow, meditating, or calling a loved one.
When you incorporate them into your day, be sure to do so with presence. Be in the moment, and focus on why you’re doing each thing. You’re doing them because you deserve to feel happy, positive and loved – and that’s really special in itself!
So instead of dwelling on feelings of loneliness, lean in to the chance to look after yourself! Fill your own cup, and enjoy every moment of the process! Spending time on things that bring you pleasure and joy is really important for rebuilding your relationship with yourself, so make the most of this time for yourself.
4. Practice gratitude.
While you might not feel overly grateful right now, particularly if you’re struggling in recovery and feeling alone, we challenge you to think of a few things you can be grateful for.
The holidays offer a perfect opportunity to appreciate what you have – a place to live, a family member to call, a body that allows you to move through life, food on your table. Practicing gratitude, whether it be making a list in your journal or simply in your mind, brings you into the present moment and helps you leave behind any anxiety or difficult emotions.
And as you’re practicing gratitude, notice your thought patterns… If you find yourself plagued by thoughts of “I am alone. I’ve got nothing to be grateful for,” choose to rewrite these patterns. Recognise that your thoughts are NOT you – and you have control over your thoughts! Choose to focus on what you want out of life, and the areas you want to focus on or invest in so that, this time next year, you can reflect again and feel truly proud of what you’ve achieved.
You can choose to feel lonely and miserable, or you can choose to be grateful for the opportunity to live a free, happy, healthy life once you commit to recovery. You can choose to feel inspired, and to take actions in alignment with your recovery goals and focuses.
Remember, you are never alone. Even if you’re physically separated from your loved ones these holidays, you always have the love and support of your Recovery Club community. Reach out to us if you’re struggling, and connect with your friends and family. Never be afraid to speak up, voice your struggles and ask for support. You’re not alone in feeling alone, but you can do something about it!
This time may be challenging, but it’s so important to remember what you’re working towards, and choose to nourish your body and mind even if you’re physically alone for now. You deserve full recovery and freedom, and only you have the power to achieve that.
We’re here for you these holidays, and always, cheering you on. You’re never alone. You are loved. Wishing you all a wonderful festive season and holiday, be kind to yourselves and show yourselves the love and compassion you show each other.
Need some extra support and guidance these holidays? Join us in Recovery Club today, and you’ll enter a community of like-minded women, cheering you on every step of the way along your recovery journey.
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If you’re looking for a support team to provide you with all the encouragement, strategies and resources you need along every step of your recovery journey, join us in Recovery Club today! You’ll be welcomed into the most compassionate, supportive group of recovery warriors, to celebrate your wins and overcome your challenges!
Hi future friends, I’m Sarah King, an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and health coach.
Science, not trends is the foundation of my approach. By nourishing the body and mind with scientific facts we can build foundations for a life of realness, not just wellness.