When the holidays come around, it’s all too easy to eat too many desserts, or just too much food in general, with the excuse: “It’s Christmas”. But if you really ask yourself, there may be a deeper issue, one that you haven’t wanted to address, one that you’ve been distracting yourself from with mouthfuls of white, sugary cookies and chewy rice crispy treats. So what to do? Here’s three tips to understand and work through what’s really going on.
1. Understand the Urges
Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be a time full of tension or loneliness. There is a lot of pressure to be happy around Christmas time, and it can have a damaging effect on our attitude towards food. Sometimes we unconsciously turn to food to remedy problems we haven’t even acknowledged as troubling factors in our lives. There are many ways the Christmas season can drive you to food in an unhealthy way. Maybe you’re busy and sleep deprived. Maybe you’re trying to navigate complicated family drama. Maybe you’re aching with unspoken pain when everyone around you seems to be smiling.
2. Acknowledge the Problem
It’s time to ask yourself some very pointed questions. This Christmas season, what is stressing you out? What brings a weight to your heart and pain to your soul? It can be something as petty as trying coordinate all the relatives arriving in the same house at the same time on the same day. It can be as deep as mourning the loss of a loved one, with painful Christmas memories to boot. No matter what it is, this problem is real. And if you don’t acknowledge it, it is all too easy to bury it in fake Christmas cheer, in the aroma of freshly baked cookies, in rich meals that are too easily abused. So enjoy the Christmas cheer, but make sure you’re not using it to cloak something else. Don’t bury your feelings in Christmas cookies. Feel them.
3. Decide to Find Joy Anyway
Once you have pinpointed the real problem troubling your soul, deal with it. Realize and accept the fact that you are overworked, stressed, sad. Understand that that’s okay. But don’t stay there. Along with whatever difficulty you are going through, consciously make a reason to find joy this Christmas. Make a plan of attack: finish organizing that family dinner. Arrange for friends to come over so you won’t be alone with your memories. Balance the pain of your breakup with the joy of a friend. Choose to be happy. Because it’s a choice. Christmas cheer doesn’t just “happen” because it’s Christmas time or because it’s snowing. It happens because we put in the effort. Because we decide to cultivate joy. And that’s when true joy comes. And we don’t need to self medicate anymore. We can enjoy those cookies one at a time without being usurped by them because life is more fulfilling, because we are free.
So this Christmas, let’s be real. Let’s face our problems and begin to work through them. Christmas can be a difficult time, but sometimes the most beautiful things come from the most challenging circumstances. So don’t give up. Instead of just digging into your plate, dig into yourself. Sort through the pleasure as well as the pain. And then decide to find the joy of Christmas anyway.