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Published: 22 November 2023

Coping with Christmas

Here at EDNE we know that Christmas can be a difficult time of year for many people. This can be for several reasons; struggling with eating distress being one of them. You may also be coping with grief and loss, finding the dark days hard, having high levels of anxiety and feeling the pressures around having a “good” Christmas for example.

We thought it might be helpful to post some of the strategies and coping techniques to try so anyone who couldn’t attend the workshops can still benefit from support.


Make a plan for what feels comfortable for you to eat. If you feel able to, discuss this with someone else. This can help to set expectations and may release pressure. Make sure you plan at a time that feels ok for you and perhaps at least a week before.

What you can control

Look at what you can control in stressful food situations. Possibilities are:

• What plate/dish you eat from.
• What cutlery you use.
• Where you sit.
• What you drink and what glass you use.
• What you wear for example you could wear something you feel comfortable in or your favourite outfit.
• Stepping away for a breather or rest. You could get 5 minutes fresh air in a garden/yard.


Plan a distraction for afterwards such as listening to music, colouring in, playing a game, or watching something.
Do a self-care activity afterwards such as having a shower or bath; giving yourself a facial or a hand massage; having a nap or doing something you enjoy.

Writing down how you feel might be helpful. You can either keep it or get rid of it after. You could do this before and after. Perhaps after, you might realise it was’t as bad or scary as you thought it would be. Remember this as proof that things can go okay for future situations and events.

Write down the memories and positives from the situation, such as spending time with people you like, rather than focusing on the food.


Perhaps use the festive break to take time for your recovery journey. Think about goals you’d like to work towards. You could make a recovery collage or a recovery board on Pinterest. A recovery playlist might be helpful to make with music that motivates you and/or makes you feel positive. It can also be helpful to write down incentives to eat and/or reasons to recover and keep the list beside you at mealtimes to remind yourself of why you want to keep going.

Coping Strategies

Grounding techniques
Grounding techniques help us to focus on the here and now instead of worrying about past or future things. They can slow our thoughts down as well. Some examples include:
Colour grounding technique – pick a colour and name all the things you can see with that colour.
Category technique – think of a category for example dog breed, country, or clothes brand, and see how many you can write down or think about.

Breathing exercises
There are many different breathing exercises that can be helpful to use when you’re feeling anxious as it helps to slow down our breathing and to feel calmer. Some examples include:
• 4-7 breathing
• Five finger breathing
• Square breathing

Create a positive mantra for yourself, for example “I can do this” or “I am stronger than I think I am” or “This feeling will pass.”

People and helplines
Call or text a support buddy.
Reach out to a help line:
Shout – 24/7 text support at 85258
Samaritans – 24/7 free phone service at 116 123; email service: jo@samaritans.org
Beat – helpline 0808 801 0677 (open 365 days a year from 9am-midnight during the week; and 4pm-midnight on weekends and bank holidays. From 24th December to 3rd January, the helpline is open 4pm-midnight).
Email support: help@beateatingdisorders.org.uk
One-to-one Web Chat: One-to-One Web Chat – Beat (beateatingdisorders.org.uk)

Beat also offers online support groups for different types of eating distress.

Follow EDNE on our social media – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Although EDNE’s office is closed from the end of the day on the 23rd of December to 3rd January, we will be having daily posts that you may find beneficial to look at over the festive break.

We also have a Pinterest page with many boards that could be useful. If you think of a board that could be helpful that we don’t have, please feel free to email ideas/suggestions in to myself or our enquiries email address.

Our social media handles are:
Instagram: eatingdistressnortheast
Facebook: Eating Distress North East
Twitter: @edneuk
Pinterest: eatingdistressNE

Rachel Cowey, Counselling Lead
Find out more about our services and how to refer yourself or someone else.

What you say


"Thank you so much for all your help over the past few months. I’ve never been comfortable enough to open up about my eating struggles so honestly and detailed to anybody (including other professionals!) like I have been able to with you and I can’t put into words how much I appreciate all the support, kindness and time you have given me through a really difficult period. Whoever has you as their therapist next is very lucky 😊"


You think you’re the only person in the world. Now I’ve found out I’m not the only one.


The counselling sessions were absolutely amazing and life-changing.


I used to block out feeling with food, it’s not like that now’


Once I got through the door it was easy. They didn’t judge. EDNE helped me to get to be this new person. The old one never looked up and never spoke.


The EDNE counsellor’s the only person who has helped me.. the big high walls have come down


It has literally changed the quality of my life.


Eating distress ..is such a secretive thing. This has been the first time I didn’t feel alone with it.


The counselling has been a big turning point and the support from EDNE has been amazing.


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EDNE was friendly welcoming and flexible

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I actually came off the session feeling I'm genuinely not alone in the types of thoughts I have. Useful tips given right through the session which I will hold on to.  Thank you 

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The group is helping me to open up and have a more open mind, to feel supported.

Friends and Family

Thank you!  It’s very relieving to know others are in similar situations and have come out at the other side. 


‘I couldn’t have managed without coming here. I genuinely think this place has kept me alive. I have a sense of hope now.’


..entire process has been incredibly supportive and empathetic, giving me the support I needed to move forwards.


‘It was not just putting a plaster over something, it was about healing it. I can’t describe how it feels to have switched my mindset, after 50 years it is mind-blowing’


I was given permission to feel. Instead of being a person with an eating disorder, I was a person who could feel feelings’


I’ve really appreciated the help I’ve been given at EDNE, I didn’t feel like I was just there as a client who just needed to get to the end of their sessions. I actually felt heard and understood.

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