As we are all aware the holiday season is in full swing. After Halloween it’s time to start making your holiday wish lists and looking for the best deals on Black Friday. With all this joy and comfort surrounding the break from school we forget the other kind of stressors that others go through during this time. Specifically Thanksgiving. I’m not going to sugar coat it for you but for the past 4 years or so I have dreaded thanksgiving. Yes, I love being with my family and dressing up in cute turtle necks and playing games but there are many young women and men who struggle with the main aspect of this holiday: the food. Thanksgiving is a holiday related to the idea that you must stuff your face with turkey and gravy and breadsticks and mashed potatoes. This sounds extremely enticing to me currently but if you had asked me about two years ago, this would have sounded like my worst nightmare. According to ANAND, 9% of the population is affected by eating disorders, with the most common being anorexia, bulimia and orthorexia.
In my opinion, this issue is not talked about enough. Growing up with the influence of social media and seeing posts with bodies that are edited, teeth whitened and pimples blurred creates such a negative stigma about how women and men are supposed to look. For the past few years this holiday has been a major stressor in my life. Whenever I got stressed about it, I would hear a voice saying that I don’t deserve to be stressed about it, that there are so many other people going through much worse things. But I’m here to remind you that your thoughts and feelings matter, no matter how small or large; if something is bothering you and taking up your energy then it is important to take a step back and focus on yourself. I wanted to provide some helpful tips for those who have anxious thoughts surrounding this holiday and know that you are not alone.
First of all, surround yourself with a supportive team and those who will always be around to help you during tough times. Whether it is your best friend, brother, sister or parent, being surrounded by people in which you feel comfortable talking to is essential.
Secondly, don’t be too hard on yourself. This holiday is about being in the presence of friends and family and making memories. Food is something that should be enjoyed socially and that is a main aspect of this holiday. If everyone is having pumpkin pie and you are eyeing it down and telling yourself you don’t deserve it, take a moment and realize that it is something to be enjoyed. Food should never be stressful, it is a way people bond and share experiences with each other. So if you want the pie, eat the pie; begin with baby steps, even a small bite will help you share the experience with your loved ones. I know it is so much easier said than done but the more you expose yourself to the thing that is scaring you, the easier it will get to face it.
Lastly, set time for yourself. Journaling and focusing on how you feel really helps for those struggling internally. Writing out why you feel stressed and perhaps if there is an underlying issue regarding the reason can help examine the cause of the anxiety. For me, exercising has always been a way I can just take time and focus on myself, whether it is a morning hike before we all gather at my Aunt’s house or taking a quick spin class with my friends, it is an amazing outlet for me to just reflect on how I feel during times of pressure.
For those experiencing these tough thoughts, make sure you are checking in with yourself and getting help. It is easy to brush it off and tell yourself your feelings aren’t valid or large enough to be anxious about but talking about it really helps and as corny as it sounds, remember you only live once. I can assure you that in 2 months from now you will not still be thinking about that second plate of stuffing you had, instead talking with your family about how wholesome the day was and how amazing the shared experience of the meal was. I am rooting for all of you during this season!