Let’s face it: while the holiday season can bring lots of joy (parties, presents and family time), it can also be one of the most stressful – and challenging – parts of the year.

There might be that uncomfortable family gathering where your weird uncle says embarrassing things, the loud and overwhelming work gathering or those relatives you haven’t seen since last year badgering you about when you’re going to settle down and get married.

This time of year can be even more difficult for people living with, or with a history of binge eating disorder, emotional compulsive overeating or food addiction. Since many individuals turn to food in times of stress and/or high emotion levels, it is no wonder that holidays can be especially difficult.

If you often find yourself using food as a way to deal with overwhelming feelings, we’re here to help bring some positive change this holiday season. In the vlog below, you’ll learn new and more adaptive ways to better manage behavior urges and more healthfully face this season’s triggers.

Some takeaways:

1). How do we know we’re if we’re experiencing high levels of stress? Some signs might include irritability, isolation from others and urges to use food as a means of easing anxieties.

2). Plan ahead. Think about some potentially stressful situations or family moments that could occur – and proactively identify positive ways to respond in case they arise. Identify comfortable topics you can pull out of your back pocket, when needed, to shift difficult conversations. Planning will help you better manage and control your response to certain situations, as well as avoid conflict that may arise.

3). Plan to take breaks. If you ever feel overwhelmed, it’s absolutely okay to remove yourself from the situation–stepping outside to collect your thoughts. Consider blocking out some alone time in advance. Use self-care measures centered around activities you enjoy most and can find comfort in.

4). Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support. Identify family members or friends who can effectively support you in difficult moments. Talk to them in advance about any anxieties you might have and brainstorm how they can best help and guide you through certain scenarios.

And don’t forget, we can be a resource for you this holiday season too, with specialized binge eating and emotional eating support.