Each year holiday advertisements for Christmas start earlier and earlier (this year I actually saw one before Halloween!) and with them comes the meta message for many folks that they need to shape up for the holidays. It won’t be long before the parties begin and we are thrown into the paradoxical mandate to, “look perfect and indulge on the holiday cookies that abound for many at home, at work, and in school.” It is not dissimilar to the mindful eating challenges faced on Halloween, but Halloween, as scary as it is, is typically culturally time limited to one or two days. The December Holiday Season, has more fluid boundaries in terms of duration, and the feelings associated with “doing the right thing” can be much more subtle and covert.
So this month’s Therapeutic Tidbit is: Look ahead to December and get a proactive start on preparing yourself for what is to come. Start by making a list…(checking it twice if needed) of what may be triggering for you. Family pressure, peer pressure, financial pressure, work pressure, media pressure, and of course the intrinsic pressure we place on ourselves. Start now, and look into the future and plan your strategy. This way you can exert more control over the outcome. Then perhaps you can really greet the season with joy and peace. There is no time like the present.
THERAPEUTIC EXPRESSIVE ARTS PROACTIVITY(tm) OF THE MONTH
Each month I offer an Expressive Arts Therapy directive that focuses on Body Image and or Eating Disorders and is associated with the theme discussed in the Monthly Therapeutic Tid Bit (see above). These directives may be used in individual or group therapy sessions or as self-help activities. Sometimes the activity itself is nothing new or brilliant but the OBJECTIVE of the directive is unique and specifically tailored to exploring issues related to body image and/or disordered eating. ENJOY! Fun is the main ingredient!
Title: Faux Tarot
Objective: To plan ahead for the challenges that will arise during the winter holiday season.
Materials: Index cards without lines or poster board cut into 3×4 inch rectangles, pencils, markers, scratch paper, magazines, scissors, and glue sticks are optional.
- Take a moment and think about December and what occasions or events you can predict will be challenging for you in relation to food and or body image.
- Write these down on a list.
- Using tarot cards as a metaphor for this proactivity, choose one item from your list and take another moment to sit quietly. This time imagine a visual image for this challenge.
- Using your art materials put the image on one side of the “tarot card”.
- Now take a moment, sit quietly and visualize the scenario you have identified on the card. Be specific. If you are in a group or working with a partner, explain the situation in detail. Pay attention to any ways that you can proactively deal with the situation before you feel out of control or unsafe in the scenario. How can your ability to predict a possible future event give you the power to change the outcome of that event or, if necessary, avoid the event completely?
- Using either words or art, design the other side of your “tarot” card with the plan or interventions you visualized in step 5.
- Between now and December, repeat the process for any of the other items on your list from step 1, until you have your own personal self-help “tarot” deck.
Special Notes: If the image of tarot cards is antithetical to your personal beliefs, then feel free to use another metaphor. The important part is taking time now to look ahead so you can be more present when the time comes. Wow! That sounds like something from Star Trek! We are messing with the time space continuum Captain!
This expressive arts directive is from contributing author Dr. Deah Schwartz. Once a month, Dr. Schwartz shares a therapeutic expressive arts therapy activity or idea to facilitate exploration, increased awareness and healing in the areas of body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. Some of these activities may need to be facilitated over more than one session, or modified for different ability levels, size of group, budget and size of work space. These directives may be used in individual or group therapy sessions or as self-help activities. Sometimes the activity itself is nothing new or brilliant but the OBJECTIVE of the directive is unique and specifically tailored to exploring issues related to body image and disordered eating. ENJOY! Fun is the main ingredient! You can learn more about eating disorder therapy here.