Whether you are planning a getaway to a warm sunny beach location, a ski vacation in the mountains or you are staying home and attending a multitude of holiday parties with friends and family, holiday vacations and breaks can be stressful. For individuals who are in eating disorder recovery, holiday vacations and gatherings can be triggering. However with the proper planning and support system, individuals in eating disorder recovery can enjoy the holidays without being triggered.

Know you triggers

As the holidays approach, it is important to know your triggers. Triggers can differ depending on the specific person. Some triggers include being around specific foods or meals while other including being around alcohol, engaging in certain conversations or being large crowds of people. Before you RSVP to every holiday party or family gathering, make sure you are aware of your triggers. If you are not able to recognize your triggers then there is no way to prevent them or learn coping mechanisms to overcome them.

Practice your coping mechanisms and skills

Coping mechanisms for eating disorders range from practicing mindfulness to avoiding the triggering situation altogether. Some individuals may choose to engage in more therapy sessions around the holiday or join a support group while other may choose to only engage in positive conversation and avoid being around certain types of food. Practicing self-care and recognizing what works for you can help prevent fear of relapse during a holiday party of a holiday vacation.

Plan for your vacation

Most people spend days, weeks or even months planning their vacation as there are so many decisions such as what to wear, which activities to do, which restaurants to visit and how much money to spend. Individuals in eating disorder recovery need to be even more vigilant about vacation planning because they are at an increased risk for relapse if they encounter unexpected triggers on their vacation.

  • Take comfortable clothes that you can easily move in and ask a trusted friend to help you if you feel anxious about this
  • Plan which activities you will be doing on your vacation and keep in mind any activities that may be triggering.
  • Bring a journal so you can write down your anxious thought and feelings during your trip
  • Seek out any support groups in the area you will be traveling in case you feel triggered while you are there
  • Make a list of which food to avoid and plan out your meals accordingly
  • Avoid situations that may be triggering for you such as being around others in minimal clothing in locations such as the spa, pool or beach. This is especially important if you are actively struggling with body dysmorphia or body positivity issues.
  • Take various mediums such as your art supplies, camera, yoga mat, or other essentials to help you stay on a routine, or give you another level of coping tools.

When planning your holiday vacation while in recovery can be stressful, remember that you have options and resources available to help you manage and cope with various events and situations.