Fire up the BBQ, it’s summer and the 4th of July is just days away! After a long and trying time you may be ready to celebrate! From family BBQ’s to maybe more intimate bonfire settings, it’s a great time to think about how you like to celebrate, what gives you joy in celebrating and what makes you feel healthy and vibrant! Not all parties and gatherings are made equal, and you deserve to enjoy any holiday in a healthy way.

Gatherings can be hard! Whenever you mix a group of people you open yourself up to lots of personalities, wants, needs, and more! Depending on your gathering group this could have you filled with so much anxiety and worry that you can’t relax and enjoy your own function. IS this you? What new boundary can you make in your gathering guidelines to keep yourself healthy? Are there people you just shouldn’t be around? Does someone’s behavior steal more from you than you are ready to give? Take some time to think about what type of camaraderie you need in your life to feel supported, encouraged, and safe, and surround yourself with those people!

Social eating and drinking. If you can plan an event or go to one without overthinking food or drinks, consider yourself lucky. Many people are so wrapped up in diet culture and rules and restrictions about food, that they can’t enjoy themselves, before, during or after the party. If this is you, it’s ok! If you need permission to just enjoy yourself at your next gathering, here it is! If you know that you will be nervous about food and/or drinks, we have some tips. First, if you have a therapist or counselor, share this worry and talk about the events coming up! Secondly, bring what you need! If you can’t enjoy, and even if there aren’t healthy options, bring some. Vice versa, if you hate going to a certain friend’s house because they never have anything sweet, bring it as a gift and add to the food table. IF you worry about overconsuming alcohol, do the work on this before you get there. Set a limit, tell someone else who will be there, and commit to the limit. It doesn’t mean your friend or family member gets to make fun of you or embarrass you, but if you’ve asked for their help, take it. Let them encourage you to play volleyball instead of having another beer. If they toss you a bottle of water when you are thinking you might want to break your limit, just take the water and at least that gives you a little break. Think about what your food and drink boundaries are! If they are to keep you safe – keep them. If they are to keep you on a restrictive diet that says you can’t enjoy a burger, maybe give yourself a day pass to just be and eat and enjoy what looks good to you!

Reset it all! We are coming out of a global pandemic. You get to reset the gathering game starting now! If you have a community of people that expected you to do all the work before, that’s not fair or healthy, – reset it now! Let people know what you will do, just because you can doesn’t mean you have to. Were you always the host before and now you’d like a break? Tell your group, I can’t host this year, but I would love to attend. Do you get stuck somewhere longer than you’d like? Before you even go, let them know, I will only be staying (insert amount) of time. If they try to get you to do it all, still host or stay longer than you like, maybe it’s time for new traditions.

The 4th of July welcomes so many opportunities to celebrate and if we are lucky, a perfect Vermont day of not too hot, not too cold, and hopefully not too wet. While we can all benefit from enjoying and celebrating this day, you don’t have to do it all. Remember, just because you can, doesn’t mean you have to. Perhaps you will go to the parade and not the fireworks. Maybe you want to go to the local events at the park but not a BBQ at your uncle’s. What would make this a fun, meaningful and memorable day that has you feeling well? Not anxious before, uncomfortable during or wiped out after. Celebrate in ways that serve you – you are worth it. Wishing you all fun Red, White, and Healthy YOU!


Mary Hoadley

Director of The Wellness Center