Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday Survival Kit

{Photo courtesy of here}
On Christmas morning, it is nice to have batteries and a screw driver handy.  My dad has learned that “some assembly required” is always a severe understatement.  There is a hilarious scene in a really hilarious movie, “Yours, Mine, and Ours”, when the father of the family stays up all night on Christmas Eve trying to assemble a child’s bike.  Of course, the situation is exaggerated, but most people can relate and you still get the point.  My favorite part in that movie is when the one kid wakes up on Christmas morning and screams through the house, “Santa Claus has been here! Santa Claus has been here!”  I love it!  Maybe I love it because it reminds me of my own family's stampede to the Christmas tree.  Anyway, I digress…

There is a tool box in the garage to help me fix things that break.  There is a kit in our car with jumper cables and tools to help fix a flat tire.  We have a few basic medical supplies in our bathroom cupboard like band aids, peroxide, and antibiotic ointment to soothe minor injuries.

Well…in keeping with the consistency, I also have a tool box for my life.  Even though they can't be seen, some area of my life also require maintenance to keep me working in tip top shape.  The major repairs, obviously, need to be taken care of by a professional.  However, there is a lot that I can do to help myself have a nourishing life where I am right now.
The holidays can be a particularly difficult time for me and for other people who are struggling with depression and/or eating disorders.  It is good to be aware of how you can help yourself and what you can do to get additional support during this festive time.
My tools are not completely tangible in and of themselves.  I keep reminder items with me to help me remember what my tools are.  I keep these items in my purse or pocket.  When my anxiety level is high, reading things off of a list doesn’t always help.  Sometimes, I just can’t seem to register what it is that I am reading.  Instead of words on a piece of paper, I use visual aids to help me return to a state of peace and calm.

My Holiday Survival Kit:
Gum – Recent studies have shown that chewing gum has been proven to help reduce your cortisol levels (your fight or flight hormone).  Gum gives me something to do when I am nervous and it also reminds me to try and let go of the stress.  See here for the stats on the report.
Soft piece of fabric – (felt, cotton, silk, or whatever) It’s a reminder to be gentle and kind to myself and it is also soothing to my sense of touch (I don't have a lucky furry rabbits foot, because I think that is creepy and would give me nightmares. But if it works for you, hey, why not?)
Hot Chocolate Packet – (or Tea, or Coffee, or whatever hot soothing beverage you prefer) I actually use this one in order to warm up after being out in the cold and to take some time to sit and adjust to my surroundings (especially if I am having a difficult time transitioning to a different environment)
Breathe right strip – to remind myself to BREATHE!
Eraser – It is OKAY to make mistakes.
Watch – Most of the time I don't wear it, but when I see it in my purse it is a good reminder to take time for myself, to slow down, and also to help me determine when it’s time to go.

Other tips to use to help in difficult situations:
Plan – Before you go somewhere, create a plan, an eating plan, an escape plan, and a decision plan.  If you know what you are getting into before you go, it will be easier cope.
Wingman – Talk to a trusted friend and make sure they know what is going on with you before hand.  That way, they can help you if need be.  You can also make up signals for each other to use so you can communicate without having to let everyone else know what's going on.
Be Comfortable – Place yourself next to people who make you comfortable, sit in comfy spots, dress in comfortable clothes.  You would be amazed at how much anxiety you can alleviate by taking off your heals, sitting on a couch, and taking a deep breath.

If you want some more great advice see the following post:
If you need some extra support during the holidays, especially if you struggle with disordered eating in any way, shape, or form, read the following articles:

Take Care!

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