I have hardly arrived at the idea that it is time to do some holiday shopping (Admittedly, I may be a bit behind. Stick with me here . . .), but my Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook feeds are already starting to tap me on the shoulder and whisper *suggestions* in my ear about what I should and shouldn’t be doing as I approach New Year Resolutions setting time. Promotional emails are already flooding my inbox with “New year, new you” subject lines and promises to help 2023 be my “best year yet” if I just. . .
. . .If I just what? We can all probably answer in harmony here: Join that gym. Try that diet. Start that challenge. Do that cleanse.
The Push to Set Unrealistic Resolutions
It won’t be long before the occasional whispers become ubiquitous and deafening. Moreover, within the next few weeks, nearly every swipe on our phones will bring us face-to-face with a post, picture, or video from “wellness experts” and friends imploring us to “get a head start on your 2023 weight loss goals” and that “if you start now, you’ll notice results by the New Year.” The messages are disguised as attempts to motivate, help, and empower, but the undertone is an accusation that we have been “overindulging” during the holiday season and, therefore, must be full of shame and in need of a “solution.”
You may soon find yourself next to someone who, while taking a bite of a brownie, will bashfully chuckle as they proclaim that their “diet starts after the New Year.” This person may then look at you expectantly, waiting for you to chime in with either your own self-loathing commentary or New Year’s resolution weight loss plans.
Yikes. No thank you.
But, now what? At Wildflower Therapy our skilled team of therapists understands the unique challenges this time of year brings for those in the midst of Eating Disorder Recovery.
Navigating Weight-Focused Resolutions Talk When In Eating Disorder Recovery
All of the New Year’s resolution marketing, talk, and pressure promoting aggressive and restrictive dieting, weight loss, and fitness plans can be especially challenging to navigate for those recovering from an eating disorder. Being inundated from all angles with messaging that continues to tell you that your body needs to be assessed, altered, changed, and fixed can be incredibly triggering when you are on your ED recovery journey.
So, if you, like me, find yourself already on edge about all of the body image and weight-related New Year’s resolution content and talk, here are 4 things you can do to help:
1. Assess and unfollow
Firstly, pay attention to accounts you follow or people you are friends with on social media and how their content makes you feel. If you notice someone’s content becoming heavily focused on body image, “fitness,” or diet talk as we approach the New Year, consider unfollowing. Secondly, your social media feeds should be a source of connection, some humor, information that validates you throughout your recovery journey, and a reprieve from the day-to-day grind, not a source of anxiety, shame, or misinformation about dieting, weight, body image, or fitness.
2. Be intentional about who you surround yourself with (virtually and IRL) in Eating Disorder Recovery
Intentionally immerse yourself in content that is uplifting, thoughtful, positive, and inclusive. Spend time with the friends and family members who support you and recognize that there are so many more interesting and fruitful things to talk about than the gym they plan to join in January.
3. Take a social media break
If you find that, even after unfollowing people and accounts, you feel drained, anxious, or triggered by all of the “new year, new you” content when scrolling through TikTok or Instagram, consider (at least temporarily) reducing the amount of time you spend on social media. Whether you give yourself times of day when you try to stay off The Gram or certain times during the week when you uninstall TikTok, consider disengaging to give yourself the space and permission to reassess the purpose of your scrolling.
4. Plan responses
It seems inevitable that, even with safeguards in place, body image, food intake regulation, fitness routine, and diet talk will creep into a conversation or two (or ten) over the next month or so. When asked about your resolution plans, consider one of the following responses if you wish to redirect or disengage from the conversation:
- “I actually haven’t thought much about New Year’s resolutions; I’m focusing on enjoying the holidays.”
- “I am looking forward to considering resolutions that don’t focus on food or changing the way my body looks; I find it sad and monotonous that we often reduce our yearly goals to focus primarily on bodies and appearance. ”
- Or a simple: “I’m not overly interested in setting New Year’s resolutions; they’re not my thing.”
Learn how to Set Resolutions That Support Your Eating Disorder Recovery
Now, if New Year’s resolutions are your thing, but you want some language for or guidance on where to start to set a more empowering, healthy, and authentic one, consider a resolution within one of the following areas that do not start (or end) with the assumption that your body needs to be “fixed.”
**Before we dive in, just a quick note about setting yourself up for resolution success: When setting your intentions for any goal, be careful about using rigid language, guidelines, and limitations marked by words like only, always, every day, or never. These words have the potential to create unattainable goals and often leave us feeling disappointed when we “fall short” of our original intentions.
4 Resolution Areas Focused on Wellness (Not Weight Loss) During Eating Disorder Recovery:
Is there a podcast or a book you have been hoping to start? Is there a quality or skill of yours (i.e., leadership, gratitude, organization, communication, empathy, resilience, or something of the like) that you can work to further develop this upcoming year? Further, can you try out a new hobby or hone a skill you’ve started to dabble in? Additionally, maybe sign up for a class about something you’re interested in. Engaging in something for yourself that encourages personal growth can be a great way to gain confidence in the new year.
Do you have relationships you would like to better foster this year? How might you deepen a connection with a partner, family member, or friend whose presence you value? Consider how you could pour into a relationship in which you feel seen, safe, and valued (and maybe draw boundaries in relationships where you don’t).
3. Daily Habits
How could you make a positive shift in your daily routine? Can you wake up a bit earlier and fill that time with something you don’t always have the margin to do: journaling, meditation, reading? Can you explore the idea of “silencing notifications” on your phone at various points throughout your day or week to allow yourself to be more present in a moment? Or maybe, when considering building in daily habits, it’s something as simple as re-committing to flossing every day. Hey, it all counts! 😀
4. Living Environment
Do you have a room or area in your living space that you can unclutter or redecorate to create a more calming, comfortable, and clean environment? Do you have old clothes you can donate? Can you explore a plan that keeps your living space mostly free of clutter as you head into the new year? The simple act of cleaning out a cupboard or creating a warm and inviting “nook” where you can relax can double as an opportunity to “unclutter” your mind.
Remember: Give Yourself Grace
As we continue to move through the holiday season and the talk about setting New Year’s resolutions amps up, give yourself grace when you encounter any frustration or challenges that this may bring to the surface. Reach out to someone you trust if you find yourself in the crux of anxiety or overwhelm. And remember, you deserve to look forward to the rest of this year and the year to come, New Year’s resolution or no New Year’s resolution. Either way, I’ll be here, cheering you on from the sidelines.
How Can Eating Disorder Therapy in Philadelphia Help You?
If you find yourself struggling in your relationship with food we would be honored to help you address those needs. We offer both in-person and virtual therapy. Our therapists in Pennsylvania are available to help you begin the journey to understanding and overcoming unhealthy patterns of behavior. Below are some steps to follow if you feel overwhelmed and would like to ask for help.
One: Schedule a Free 30-minute consultation with our online contact form.
Two: Get to know more about our therapists here.
Three: Begin the journey to healing and wholeness.
Other Mental Health Services Provided by Wildflower Therapy, Philadelphia, PA
Life is a unique journey for each of us and we all have our individual battles to fight. We understand that motherhood brings its own unique set of challenges. Our therapists know there is no one-size-fits-all approach to any of life’s difficulties and we offer many unique perspectives and approaches to help meet you where you are with our Philadelphia, PA Therapy services.
We offer services for eating disorder therapy, services for anxiety, and depression, and have practitioners who specialize in therapy for college students and athletes. As well as LGBTQIA+ Affirming Therapy. As you can see we have something to offer just about anyone in our Philadelphia, PA office. Reaching out is often the most difficult step you can take to improve your mental health. We look forward to helping you on this journey!
If you’re looking for someone to come alongside you to help you consider New Year’s resolutions that would work for you, effectively avoid resolution talk, or otherwise help you enter 2023 well, our therapists would be honored to help! You can get to know a little bit more about them here and book a free consultation here.
By: Erika Muller, Assistant for Wildflower Therapy LLC