Allowing Yourself to Enjoy the Holidays while in ED Recovery

Holiday in ED Recovery

The hustle-and-bustle of the holiday season certainly lends to some of its charm. There is a thrill in the air as people decorate their homes, reminisce about traditions, buy their gifts, and prepare to make unforgettable memories with their loved ones.

Our society often looks down upon taking time off, and it seems as if, every holiday season, people are taking advantage of down-time less-and-less and working more-and-more.

For those in eating disorder recovery, it crucial that you allow yourself to truly soak in the joyous moments and breathe in the relaxation of having time off.

Self-Care is Crucial to Recovery

Self-care is a term that is thrown around often these days. Concretely defined, it is “the cultivation of an individual’s external environment in a manner that promotes happiness and well-being [1].”

In addition to bringing you joy and helping you lead a happier life, engaging in self-care helps to restore you, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Stress and tension may cause unhealthy behaviors to creep back in but engaging in self-care helps you to combat these negative feelings in a positive manner.

The beauty of self-care is that how this definition applies to your life is entirely up to you. Discovering what promotes happiness and well-being are different for every individual. Find what does this for you and indulge in it this holiday season.

Being Surrounded with Love and Support is a Protective Factor

While the traditional meals, decorations, and gifts are essential to the season, what really makes the season memorable is the time shared with loved ones.

Being present in this time and relishing the feeling of being surrounded by love, laughter, positivity, and support is virtuous for your soul and your recovery.

It is not surprising that research supports this, with most studies showing that family and peer relationships significantly influence the recovery process [2]. Individual’s that know they are cared for unconditionally generally show higher resiliency.

Individual’s with eating disorders are so used to cutting themselves down they often don’t know how to absorb the love surrounding them. This holiday season, know that you are deserving of unconditional love from yourself and your support system and soak in as much as you can.

Let Your Guard Down While Remaining Self-Aware

Woman during the holidaysYou should indeed be aware of the problems and stresses your disorder may bring to the holidays. However, this does not mean they need to take center-stage.

If you spend every moment on high-alert, “looking over your shoulder” for your ED to creep up, you are still letting it dictate your life. It is possible to maintain your recovery and relax without completely throwing away all that you’ve learned in recovery. Strike a balance between being present and self-aware and allowing yourself to relax and unclench your fists.

Recovery is exhausting and involves constant vigilance and self-work. With every ounce of energy and strength, you put toward recovery; you need to fill yourself back up, with love, self-care, and happiness.

Image of Margot Rittenhouse.About the Author: Margot Rittenhouse is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.

As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.


[1] Cook-Cottone, C. P. (2015). Incorporate positive body image into the treatment of eating disorders: a model for attunement and mindful self-care. Body Image, 14: 158-167.
[2] Linville, D. et al. (2012). Eating disorders and social support: perspectives of recovered individuals. Eating Disorders, 20: 216-231.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on December 23, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on December 23, 2017.
Published on