How to Navigate Family and Friends During the Holiday Season

  1. Talk about your triggers with your family. Give them specific ways they can support you.
  2. If you are going to a party where you are worried you might feel triggered. Or maybe most people there donn’t know about your eating disorder, bring a close friend or family member for support.
  3. Spend time with younger family members at family holiday parties. Play a game with them. They offer a nice distraction from more serious conversations.
  4. Make sure to spend time with older family members as well. Talk about past holidays or ask to hear stories from when they were younger. They offer great perspective on the important things in life.
  5. Prepare yourself with distractions for after meals:
    1. Offer to be the family photographer. Take pictures of everyone throughout the day/evening.
    2. Suggest that everyone play a game together after the meal.
    3. Watch a holiday movie with friends or family after eating.
  6. Holidays are busy and may interfere with self-care or recovery. This time of year, it is especially important to carve out time to take care of yourself and engage in whatever skills you tend to utilize to manage stress (e.g. deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, grounding techniques, etc.)
  7. Set boundaries! You may feel like you have a number of obligations and expectations to meet over the holiday season. Be honest with yourself on what you can do and remind yourself it is okay to say no.
  8. Know that it’s okay to not tell everyone about your eating disorder. Work with therapist, support group, or friend to come up with some planned responses to various possible triggering scenarios. You can come up with different responses based on whether or not the person you are talking to knows about your eating disorder or not. See this post from NEDA for some great ideas to get you started!

By Elyse Rocco, PsyD