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Remaining Centered During the Holiday Season

Monte Nido & Affiliates Chief Clinical Officer Melissa Spann, LMHC, PhD, CEDS-S discusses the upcoming holidays in this week’s blog post. Dr. Spann shares some ideas on how to remain centered during this time of year. 

As the aisles in Target are peppered with green and red (albeit starting in October) we become increasingly aware that the holiday season is encroaching upon us. The holidays can often bring on mixed emotions for all of us. Although joyous to be with family and friends, these yearly interactions can also be the source of anxiety and fears. For those individuals who have struggled with an eating disorder, the holidays are often laden with additional meal and food concerns. Thanksgiving, Christmas holiday parties galore are often centered around food and alcohol and can be daunting for those in recovery. Here are some ideas to help keep us all centered during this time of year:

  • Make a list of what you are grateful for. A few years ago I purchased a “Grateful Turkey” for my family. Every year before we sit down for our Thanksgiving meal, all who are gathered at our table write down and share what they are grateful for.
  • Connect with relationships with family and friends that give you strength. The holidays are often a time of seeing family and friends that perhaps are not part of your otherwise daily life. Some of those folks are not always aware of what is going on in our lives and they may say or do the wrong thing. We cannot control what those around us do but we can work on how we react to those situations. Make sure to draw strength from the people in your life that provide you support and relationships that feed your soul.
  • Let others know what you need. As with the supportive people above, don’t be afraid to use your voice and ask for what you need. Perhaps a hand to hold when you walk into a room or receiving a text message, make sure to ask the people who care about you to help meet your needs.
  • Remember that the holidays can be hard! This is true for many people. Guised in singalongs and beautiful trees, for many the holidays are also a reminder of the road not traveled. Take a deep breath and remember that it is ok to not be ok.
  • Engage in a daily practice of mindfulness. Holidays or not – just a few minutes daily can have significant positive effects. Perhaps a morning meditation or a centering activity prior to a meal, ritual around mindfulness practices can help ensure daily practice. Make the time and feel the difference.
  • Make sure to meet your nutritional needs – just because there is a big thanksgiving dinner does not mean to skip thanksgiving breakfast. This is one of the biggest challenges I see with people in recovery. In our mainstream culture of diet and exercise, we hear comments like “saving calories” for a later meal or “Turkey Trot” runs to prepare for dinner. Tune out these messages as best as you can and encourage those around you to stay in normal routines the rest of the holiday day.
  • Find activities of enjoyment with your body. This time of year brings different types of outdoor activities of enjoyment. Just as I would encourage you to try a new seasonal fruit or vegetable, I would also encourage you to change up your movement routines. Trying making snow angels or playing twister by the fireplace. Find ways to seasonally enjoy your body.
  • Create new traditions. For some of us the holidays are times to continue family traditions. For others, we are creating new traditions with new family members and friends. How can you make a holiday feel special and unique to you and those you are celebrating with? What do you want your new tradition to be?
  • Do the next right thing. We do not walk in linear paths. Our lives take turns through valleys and mountains. It is ok if we side-step. Take a deep breath and do the next recovery-oriented thing.


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