Two-thirds of people who suffer from an eating disorder also experience an anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Managing anxiety is a major factor for successful recovery from an eating disorder—but here come the holidays, which, for many in recovery, is the most stressful time of the year.
A little extra TLC during the holidays can go a long way toward preventing a relapse of an eating disorder. Here are some tips for managing anxiety and finding peace and joy this holiday season.
Managing Anxiety During the Holidays
1. Stay Mindful
Staying aware of your thoughts and emotions during the holidays can help you prevent or manage bouts of anxiety. It’s easy to let stress and negative emotions consume you if you don’t take the time to acknowledge them and try to determine their source. Identifying and addressing the triggers of your anxiety can help reduce symptoms, and staying mindful of destructive thought patterns—and correcting them right away—can help prevent it.
Deep breathing immediately reduces the body’s stress response, which includes elevated blood pressure, body temperature and heart rate. When you’re feeling particularly anxious, find a comfortable place to sit quietly and do some deep-breathing exercises for five or 10 minutes.
3. Reduce Your Stress
Stress makes anxiety worse, and finding ways to reduce stress during the holidays is important for your mental health. Make a list of the things that stress you out during the holidays, and think of ways to mitigate them. For example, if finances always seem to cause you stress, as they do most people this time of year, consider asking extended family members, friends and co-workers to reconsider gift exchanges and instead donate time or money to a cause in the family’s name. If hosting a gathering is stressful for you, enlist some help.
According to Harvard University, daily meditation goes a long way toward not only lowering stress and anxiety, but also improving the way your body responds to them in the future. Regular meditation also improves self-awareness and mindfulness. Just fifteen minutes of meditation each day can help promote ongoing recovery.
4. Practice Self-Care
Taking good care of yourself is central to managing anxiety and staying on top of recovery. This is especially true during the bustling holiday season. Make a point to engage in these essential self-care tasks every day:
- Get adequate sleep
- Mindful movement like yoga or walking
- Stay well-hydrated
- Spend time relaxing and having fun
- Ask for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed
Managing anxiety is, in part, a state of mind. This year, tap into the spirit of the holidays and make it a priority to enjoy them. Focus on the relationships you cherish and on nurturing positive thoughts about yourself. Anxiety may still rear its ugly head this season, but if you stay on top of it and treat yourself gently, you’ll get through it—and the holidays—intact.