6 Tips for Surviving the Holidays in Anorexia Recovery

This year is odd for me. Last December, I was admitted to Center for Change because I had been battling anorexia for a good part of my life. Since being discharged in April, I have stayed in my recovery. However, as the holidays approach, my stress has become greater and the more I want to relapse. Here are some tips to survive the holidays:

1. Stay occupied.

Whether you are in school, taking a break or working, staying occupied is key. During the holiday season, with winter we tend to stay inside and cover up more, which can lead to self-neglect. Making to-do lists and making plans with loved ones will help you not to fall into a cycle of not caring for yourself.

2. It is OK to skip out on some activities.

Winter can be stressful enough, but when family comes to town that’s a whole new level. Now, you shouldn’t cancel or reject every plan, but distancing yourself for the sake of your mental health is OK. If you need to take a bath rather than go out to a meal with your cousin who you never talk to, then that is OK, as long as you are taking care of yourself.

3. Don’t be worried about the past.

For me, this time of year marks important and stressful dates. My brother (who is out of the country) is turning 19 and the day I was last admitted is the 21st. A few other important dates follow in January. Last New Year’s Eve, I was in an ambulance headed to the ER while my family was thousands of miles away. Yet, this year marks a year in recovery, quite a few years since my eating disorder really took over me and a year since I’ve been in an ER. This year, I’m looking forward to being able to say I have made it to my discharge date, and I’m still in recovery. I look forward to beating anorexia.

4. If you are alone, then you really aren’t.

Last year being, thousands of miles away from my family for the first time was extremely hard. I saw other patients see their friends and family, and they were so caring. Eventually, one basically took me in for the rest of their daughter’s admission. We are alone physically, but staring out the window and wishing for something different won’t change our situation. So many people spend the holidays in hospitals. You aren’t alone. While most of us don’t ever experience the joys of being alone for the holidays, you know someone who is. Invite them in, and if it is you this year, then you are never alone in this world.

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.

5. There is always next year.

I told this to numerous people throughout my life, and this year it counts for me too. No matter how awful this day, week, month or year have been, there most likely will be another day. We all wish we could change something in our past, but we can’t. Why do we not help shape the future? If this year you are alone, then maybe next year you will have everyone you love by your side. So no matter what is happening today or two weeks from now, you’ll always have another chance.

6. For those considering suicide, remember you matter.

The holiday season is either dreaded or yearned for. If you’re dreading the next month, then bear with me. Mariah Carey songs will stop playing. No matter your situation, you matter. Loneliness, financial struggles, personal or family issues, you matter. One thing that is never the answer is suicide. Last year, almost to the date, I was ready to give up. Yet, miracles do happen, even if it doesn’t come right away or in the way you expected. The world will tell you that you are wanted. That’s all we really want, right? To be wanted. If you are seriously considering suicide, the hotlines and hospitals never close. Please, speak up and get help because suicide is permanent. Pain is not.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

 If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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