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  • Writer's pictureJenna Matisz

5 Skills to Help You Maintain Eating Disorder Recovery After the Holidays

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

Working on eating disorder recovery can be tough after the holidays. Many people experience a dip in mood due to the dark and cold weather. Life ca

n feel more mundane after the excitement and the busyness of the holiday season. Some may have had challenging times with family or food during the holidays that have left them feeling guilty or drained. On top of all that, diet talk is in full-swing with unrealistic promises that starting a new diet or changing our exercise routine is going to make us feel better about ourselves.

So, how can you focus on maintaining your recovery after the holidays? Consider if you would benefit from implementing one or more of the following skills:

1. Weigh the pros and cons of making a change

It can be easy to get caught up in whatever the new, shiny diet or fitness craze happens to be this January – a sign of great marketing!

If you’re thinking about making a change that you think could impact your recovery, make a pros and cons list. Consider the advantages and the disadvantages that change might have on your recovery in the short-term (1-12 months) and the long-t

erm (1-5 years). Be honest with yourself, talk about it with your supports, and sit on it for a few days. Then decide how you want to move forward.

2. Build in a new, healthier habit: daily check-ins

Diet culture teaches us to rely on external rules and pressures rather than listen ourselves. As a result, learning how to reconnect and be mindful of your mind and body may be an important part of recovery for you.

Consider setting aside a few moments each day to check-

in by asking yourself the following questions: 1. How am I feeling emotionally right now? 2. How am I feeling physically right now? 3. Is there anything my body or my mind needs? 4. How can I give myself what I need?

3. Keep a credit list

As a protective measure, our minds naturally focus on the negative. This is adaptive in many ways, but not so helpful when it comes to feeling good about the progress you’re making in recovery!

Consider starting a credit list where you track one (or more!) recovery wins from each day. Keep the list in your phone or in a notebook you use often. Watching the list grow throughout the month can feel motivating and being able to look back on it when you’re doubting yourself can be a good reminder to keep going.

4. Build mastery

Building mastery is a skill from Dialectical Behavior Therapy that can help improve self-esteem and confidence. Choose a task or activity that you want to make progress in; perhaps it’s something recovery related (like tackling a feared food) or a new hobby you want to try out. Take frequent, small steps to engage in the task or activity on a regular basis and watch yourself progress and build mastery in it.

Seeing yourself make progress in something that’s important to you can give you a sense of competency and make you feel confident and capable. These are important feelings to foster at any time, but particularly after the holidays when we might not be feeling our best.

5. Make a plan for coping ahead

Diet talk is a constant obstacle in eating disorder recovery but is particularly loud after the holidays. Consider practicing the cope ahead skill to help you navigate diet talk this month.

Ask yourself: 1. What diet talk situations might I have to navigate over the next month or two? How do these situations typically make me feel? What do I find challenging about them?

2. What skills will I need to be intentional about using before, during, and after these situations?

3. Take a moment to imagine yourself applying those skills in the situation. Do you feel any more prepared for navigating the situation? If not, what else do you need to consider?

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