Proud2Bme | Breathe In, Breathe Out

Breathe In, Breathe Out

By Shirley Wang--Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Kwanza or Diwali, this time of year is chock-full of get-togethers, decorations, gift-giving--and lots of food.

In every culture around the world, food plays a main role at parties. For many people, this is nothing but a delicious way to spend time with loved ones. However, for those suffering from eating disorders, disordered eating, or body image issues, food–-especially in social situations–-presents an enormous challenge. Throw that together with large and noisy crowds, the aunt who is always on a diet, and the added pressure of appearing put-together and self-confident, and anyone would be overwhelmed. But fear not! There are ways to stress less this holiday season.

During anxiety-producing moments, your heart rate and breathing quicken to a rapid pace, and you might experience sweating or nassau, depending on the severity of the anxiety. Here are some tips to prevent and combat such feelings:

* Deep Breaths: Focus on your breathing, making sure your out-breaths are longer than your in-breaths. It has often helpful to count your breathing from one to seven – breathing in for three, and out for four. By slowing your breathing, your heart rate will also calm down, lessening anxiety.

* Grounding: This is a common skill taught to patients in therapy. There are many ways to ground yourself, but the simplest method is to sit down in a chair (preferably in a separate room), uncross your legs and arms, and place both feet on the ground. Closing your eyes, focus on your breathing, as mentioned in the previous tip. Feel your feet pressing into the ground, and feel your back pressing into the back of the chair. Tune into your body, and tune out the babble of voices in the other room.

* Save it for Later: Simply write down your thoughts on a piece of paper or a small notebook you can keep in your purse. Get it all out – all your feelings, worries, and anxieties. Set a time later in the day to come back to those thoughts and sort through them. Then, fold up the piece of paper or close the notebook and physically and mentally put it away.

* Self-Soothe: Do something that will help calm you down for the moment – something engaging that will give you some sensory input. Stand outside for a few minutes, and breathe in the fresh air. Drink a steaming hot cup of chamomile tea. Sniff a french vanilla scented candle or spritz your favorite perfume into the air.

Most importantly, remember that you don’t have to be perfect. It is okay to ask for help or support from a friend. It is okay to use these tips to lesson anxiety. And lastly, remember the true reason why we gather with our loved ones, laugh together, smile together, and enjoy the evening together: because it is a time to be thankful, to celebrate, to commemorate moments in history, and to enjoy ourselves.

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

Proud2Bme was first launched in the Netherlands by Riverduinen, a mental health organization that has licensed the concept to the National Eating Disorders Association. Unless otherwise noted, all original content on this site is copyright The National Eating Disorders Association. The Proud2Bme brand, logos, and trademarks are property of Rivierduinen.