Thursday, 22 December 2011

Emotional Stability at Christmas

Christmas is a stressful time. Even those without a mental health problem find the holidays difficult to get through, so it goes with out saying that, when an eating disorder is thrown into the mix too, there are bound to be problems.

For me and many others, there is a sadness, grief and loneliness behind my Christmas cheer. My disordered family is thrown together and the intensity nearly always bubbles over into arguments and squabbles. I am deeply ashamed to admit that there is still a stain on my family home's sitting room wall, where I threw a glass of wine at my sister one Christmas, missed and instead imprinted a cherry red mark on the cream wall as a memento of my rage!  

Late nights, rich food, extra alcohol, traffic and crowds, shopping and finances, cooking and cleaning and all the other tasks of Christmas, all make this time of year a protracted emotional time.

There ARE a few things which DBT offers us for a successful way to ride the holiday wave. I personally am concentrating on  COPE AHEAD. The more I plan for and organize the less likely that something unformulated will shock me into an emotional backlash. All my clothes are washed and outfits put together. I have made plans for friends to ring me on Christmas eve, Day and Stephen's day as supports and handy excuses from the dinner table. 

I am putting together a wellness toolbox to bring with me as part of SELF SOOTHE. This box is a little like what you might bring to keep a child entertained on a long car journey. I have knitting, coloring pencils and paper, magazines and books. I also have my DBT notes and MINDFULNESS exercises. I have 6 reminders on my phone which simply say 'Check-In'. these are to remind me to recognize my anxiety and take regular MINDFUL breaks throughout the day. I find things always seem less overwhelming after a few deep breaths.

I will also be practicing RADICAL ACCEPTANCE. I need to have realistic expectations. My family will not suddenly change into the perfect Brady bunch overnight. And if I can ACCEPT that my family are not perfect I think I have more of a chance of dealing with the potential holiday fallout.

I plan on respecting my values. I do not want to compromise my recovery 'just because' its Christmas. I am going to eat intuitively. So if I am hungry and dinner is not ready yet... well sorry, but I will eat anyway! 

Christmas is supposed to be a happy period and therefore a perfect5 opportunity to make new better memories for future years, so ACCUMULATE POSITIVE EXPERIENCE is another skill. I am going to spend time at the end of the day to reflect on what things went well and add them to my positivity book.

Are there any other tips you guys have?



  1. A useful tip I've been using is to download mindful podcasts. I've grown to love Tara Brach as her voice is soothing. Taking a few minutes todo a guided exercise via mp3 player/phone helps me through when I can't concentrate enough to do the exercises myself.

  2. Oh thank you Holsann! I will check Tara Brach out. I am loving the loving-kindness mindfulness meditations at the moment. I feel they help me to cultivate better self love. xxx

  3. Thank you Andy! And Merry Christmas and a blessed 2014

  4. Thank you Andy!
    Merry Christmas and a blessed 2014 xoxo