Navigating Body Image Triggers During the Holidays with Jessica

Hello again! This time of the year always gets away from me, and I can’t believe I’m already writing a November blog post. I saw a reminder online last week that there are only two more months left in this decade… wrap your head around that for a second! So since we can’t stop time and the holidays are quickly approaching, it’s time to talk about handling the ins and outs of taking care of YOU during the next couple of months. I love the holidays, but I also know how stressful they can become. And this month I thought I’d talk a little bit more about something that’s been on many of my client’s minds as the holidays approach… how to handle body image triggers during the holiday season. 

For all of the lovely parts of the holiday season, they are also the perfect storm for all things body image related. Increased socialization, decreased free time, family photos, holiday goodies, family dinners, and seeing people you haven’t seen in forever…. aka more opportunities for people to reflect on how your body has changed over the last year. All of these things can be uncomfortable in large doses, especially when they aren’t expected or if you don’t have a plan for how you are going to handle them. So this year, instead of “pushing through” the holidays, I encourage all of you to consider what it might look like to address body image triggers head on. Give yourself the opportunity to explore what may impact your body image over the holidays, and create a plan to take care of yourself! Take a moment to look through the list of triggers below. Do any of these resonate for you? If they do, continue reading for some strategies that can help the holidays feel a little less uncomfortable.

Body Image Triggers

-People talking about their eating or exercise habits

-People making suggestions about your eating or exercise habits

-People making comments about the type or amount of food you are eating

-Feeling overly full or overly hungry

-Not having access to the types of food that you would typically eat

-Eating at different times that you would typically eat

-Having access to more food than you typically would

-Having to make special requests to fit your own dietary needs

-Hearing someone make comments about their own body

-Hearing someone use triggering words such as “fat” or “skinny”

-Someone making a comment about your body

-Someone making a comment about your appearance

-Being around family members with different eating habits

-Being around family members with different body sizes

-Being hugged, poked, squeezed ,etc.

-Posing for family photos (or seeing the photos on social media!)

Have a game plan: Triggers can be much more overwhelming when you either don’t expect them to happen or aren’t sure about what do to in the moment. Understanding your own unique triggers and needs over the holiday season can help you to feel more confident and in control during uncomfortable situations. Take time to understand how and when these triggers may come up for you, as well as creating a plan for how you are going to handle them. The holidays are a great time to review all of those coping skills, self-soothing techniques, and self-care strategies! It may also be helpful for you to have some ready to go stories or safe topics that you can turn to when discussion starts to turn to places that make you feel uncomfortable.

Find an ally: If it’s an option for you, talk with a supportive friend or family member who will be present with you during some of the stressful events that come up over the holidays. Let them know what your concerns are and how body image distress many be triggered for you. This person can help remind you of strategies you can use to care for yourself when you need to, but can also be there to help limit the amount of body related triggers you are exposed to.

Use Your Voice: Remember that wherever you are or whoever you are with, you always have the ability to use your own voice as a tool to SOMETHING. You can use your voice to be direct and set boundaries that you need to help you manage any discomfort during the holidays.  Your voice is your best ally over the holidays, although sometimes it can be hard to remember that it’s yours to use! Instead of silencing yourself during times of discomfort, remember you can always use phrases like “I’d rather not talk about that right now” or “Please don’t post that on social media” to set your own limits.

Take Time for You: It’s easy to forget to make time for yourself over the holidays. Whether you’re hosting family, seeing loved ones, or simply have a lot packed into your schedule it can seem like there just isn’t time for anything else. If you ignore everything else on this list, please remember that it is okay to take time for you over the holidays. Your body is the vessel that is going to carry you through the next couple of months. You will be better able to enjoy all of the wonderful chaos that is the holidays if you are well rested, refreshed, and recharged.  For more about what this might look like for you, check out some of our previous blogs on self-care or yoga nidra! Or, give us a call to talk about what it might look like to set up an appointment. Therapy is a fantastic way to prioritize YOU over the holidays!

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