Easter, with its focus on family, food and disruption of everyday routine, albeit just for a few days, can be a particularly stressful time of the year if you are suffering from an eating disorder, anxiety or depression. Unfortunately this year brings with it additional angst and uncertainty. As we are all being encouraged to stay at home at the moment, this Easter could mean you feel there is an expectation of you to eat meals or engage more with those in your household. Instead of being an enjoyable time, this can lead to a long weekend of distress and unrest with us turning toward destructive mechanisms to cope.
The most important message we want to share with you is that you don’t have to celebrate Easter if you are not at a point in your recovery journey where you feel you are able to. Although you may experience FOMO, remember that this is a celebration that comes around every year so you will get your chance to enjoy it when you are ready.
Here are some of our top tips for getting through Easter:
- Plan ahead of time. Preparation is key to feeling empowered when you are in recovery. Be brave and let others around you know if there is anything you aren’t ready for yet. Ask questions about meals and activities, and form a plan for if/when you feel overwhelmed as this will help you to react in a more measured and useful way. If there is someone you can speak to about this, then coming up with your plan together can be really worthwhile and comforting. We suggest including knowing where you can go to remove yourself from any challenging scenarios, building in plenty of time for yourself, creating a playlist of music/podcasts/meditations that makes you feel good, and collating anything you need to engage in your favourite creative outlet.
- Listen to your inner self. This will help you to stay grounded, to re-connect with yourself and act according to your body’s needs; whether that is to eat and drink, to be alone, to get some sleep and so on. By listening to yourself you can realise what you do and don’t want. For example, if you really don’t want to eat something then speak up – those around you should respect this. On the other hand, there are no “good” or “bad” foods so if you do want to eat something, honour that craving! Focus on the taste and texture so that you savour every moment, and try to listen to your body rather than your unwell voice to recognise when you are full. If you are suffering with anxiety and depression, this concept applies too – whether these are exclusive or co-occurring, notice your thoughts, identify what you need and choose the kindest response to take care of yourself.
- Try to resist restricting in order to compensate for other choices. For example: missing meals to enjoy chocolate, cake or a hot cross bun, or giving up a food under the guise of it being for Lent, so you can binge at the end of this period. You need the nourishment of your meals to keep your blood sugars balanced and to give you energy. Choosing to restrict means that you are more likely to binge. Whether you are eating a meal or a chocolate egg, as you eat, do so slowly and without guilt. Eating disorders thrive on shame and will try to use Easter as an excuse to manipulate you but it’s your mind and body, and you get to decide what foods you can manage.
- Practise daily self-care. What do you enjoy doing in your normal daily routine and what do you find the most beneficial? Try to prioritise positive behaviours that make you feel content and ensure you carry on doing these things. Often when other things are going on we can let our self-care slide but in reality this is when we need it most. Remember that it’s ok to not have any Easter plans or to stop/pause them – despite what you may see on Instagram – to focus on self-care. Likewise, it’s ok to tell those around you that you need to take half an hour or so to yourself. People are normally concerned with themselves anyway, so take your time and come back when you are ready and feel able.
- Don’t beat yourself up. Recovery varies from person to person but can be a long process. Every small step forward is so vital and there will be relapses at times. Make sure you show yourself compassion and nurture yourself – before, during and after – rather than adding pressure on yourself to do something you are not ready for or if things don’t go as planned; it will just put you back even further. Remind yourself that you do want to recover and that you can and will. If you do feel ready, giving yourself permission to enjoy and celebrate Easter is a big step in your recovery journey. If you end up bingeing or purging, do not beat yourself up over it. Just put it behind you and move forward. Try to get back on track at the next meal.
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Whatever the level of support you are looking for, we’re here. We offer outpatient and online recovery programs for those needing help with eating disorders, body dysmorphia, trauma, anxiety or depression. Call us today on 0845 603 6530 or fill in our short contact form.
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