Eating Disorders

Facing Your Holiday Fears in Recovery

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I have many fears. Most having to do with social gatherings, so typically holidays are a very stressful time for me. However, I have learned that we have fears for a reason, and that reason is so that we can face them.

Facing my fears is scary and it’s not something I enjoy doing; however, how would I ever grow and get stronger if I constantly limited myself because of my fear?

A lot of people think facing a fear involves doing something you’ve never done before or taken a risk, which can be true in some situations, but facing a fear also has to do with leaving your comfort zone, doing something that terrifies you, and then being proud for doing it.

In the case of my social anxiety, holidays become very overwhelming to the point where I will do anything and everything to not have to go. There have been many times where I held my family back from gatherings because of my fears around food and people. Even last year at Thanksgiving I found myself in a dark relapse where, even though I made it to the gathering, I was constantly angry and nervous and thus put everyone is a bad mood.

This year, my intentions are to have fun for once, to eat and be okay, to enjoy the company of my family, and to live.

In order to achieve these goals, I must face my fears (or at least a couple) that I have about holidays, food, and people.

Here’s a list of some of these specific fears:

  • fear of people’s thoughts about me (my words, clothes, what I eat, etc)
  • fear that people will think I’m fat
  • fear that there will be no food I “can” eat
  • fear of eating too much food
  • fear of people watching me eat
  • fear of embarrassing myself in some way
  • fear of being bored
  • fear of sitting for too long and gaining weight

Okay, so you get the point. Most of them are irrational and I know this. People aren’t going to think I’m fat, yet I still fear they will. People most likely won’t care what I eat or be watching what I have, yet I still fear they will be. It’s crucial I face these fears or else they are just going to end up harming me in the long run.

My first step would be to pick the most anxiety-provoking fear and make a plan of how I am going to face it. Let’s choose “fear of people watching me eat.” I can prepare myself beforehand by reminding myself this fear isn’t even rational, or I can practice self-love so when the time comes, even if people are watching me eat, it won’t bother me as much. By doing this simple exercise, hopefully, my fear will slowly become less and less stressful.

I encourage you to try this with your fears during the upcoming holiday.

What are your fears? Where do they come from? How will you face them?

It’s not easy trying to break through something that is scary, but it’s definitely worth it. I know what it’s like to have a fear hold you back, but being able to break down the wall is one of the best feelings you could ever experience.

When you face a fear, you become stronger, and being able to feel pride for doing so is a form of self-love.

So go out there and break those walls of fear. You can do it!

Tayla is recovering from anorexia. She hopes to major in Culinary Arts/Business one day. She writes about eating disorder recovery and anxiety.

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