Even if we call it the most wonderful time of the year, over 60% of Americans report feeling somewhat or very stressed during the holiday season. If you're in recovery, this stress can become even more complicated.
You might be straddling family pressures and financial anxiety while also trying to maintain your recovery momentum. And if everyone at home seems to be partying, the desire to relapse may be even more heightened.
You can learn how to manage this stress and cope with this season. You can also learn new ways to appreciate the holidays without numbing yourself! Let's get to it.
Acknowledge Your Triggers
Everyone has them, and the holiday season can exacerbate small inconveniences into major stressors. Acknowledgment increases awareness, and awareness can be the first step towards creating a sustainable relapse prevention plan.
Common holiday triggers include:
spending time with family members.
going back to your childhood home or hometown.
spending time with other people who are drinking or using.
feeling lonely during the holidays.
struggling with money issues during the holidays.
relationship stress or going through a breakup.
Set Your Boundaries
As a reminder, you don't need to participate in any traditions that make you feel uncomfortable. You also don't need to go anywhere or spend time with anyone who could jeopardize your recovery.
As the holidays approach us, think about the boundaries you want to set for your well-being. Maybe it's spending time with just a few sober friends and having a quiet night. Perhaps you'll set a time limit for how long you interact with your family.
While boundaries can be fluid, it's a good idea to have them in mind. This will help keep your recovery in check, especially when emotions run high. If you're unsure which boundaries you should set, talk about your concerns with your support team. Your therapist, life coach, or sponsor can collaborate with you on the best strategies for ensuring your success.
Embrace New Sober Traditions
Unfortunately, many people use the holidays as an excuse to stop taking care of themselves. It's a time marked by overindulgence. Many people drink excessively, spend too much money, or overeat the entire season. While this pattern may not be concerning for everyone, it can be detrimental for people in recovery.
You will need to plan and think about replacing negative habits with more positive ones. Consider using this time as an opportunity to start new traditions. Some good ideas include:
making care packages or feeding the homeless.
having a sober Friendsgiving or another holiday dinner.
doing something fun and outdoorsy (hiking, snowboarding, going for a run).
planning a sober party with your friends.
Continue Engaging In Your Usual Routine
Don't let the holidays be an excuse to derail your normal progress. Structure is still important, even if everyone else appears to be taking an indulgence break. Your recovery tends to be most vulnerable when you stop doing the things that helped you get there.
Having accountability and commitments to your routine can help you make positive choices. For example, you might hold yourself accountable for waking up and going to bed at the same time each day. You may commit to attending a certain meeting every week.
These routines are important, no matter the season or the occasion. They remind you of what's most important: your physical and emotional well-being.
Keep Practicing Gratitude
Don't just save your appreciation for the Thanksgiving table. Try to embrace it all year round. If you're feeling anxious or depressed over the holidays, take a moment and ask yourself:
What's going well in my life right now?
How can I practice more self-compassion?
Who do I love in my life?
What blessings can I focus on right now?
Gratitude helps keep life in perspective. Often, we ruminate on our past or obsess over our future, which leaves little room for us to enjoy the present moment. But when you're able to appreciate what's right in front of you, it's easier to manage this stress.
Reach Out If You're Struggling
Unfortunately, many people relapse during the holiday season. It's a stressful and vulnerable time, and you may not be prepared for this new wave of emotions, especially if it's your first time experiencing them sober.
If you notice yourself experiencing heightened cravings, reach out as soon as you can. Talk to someone about what's going on. Your loved ones want to help you, but you must be willing to be honest, no matter how uncomfortable that may feel.
It's okay to ask for extra help right now. Your recovery needs to be your top priority. The holidays come every year, but if you don't optimize your well-being, you may not be around to enjoy them!
Keeping Your Recovery Momentum At The Resurface Group
We know the holidays can be a challenging time. Even if you have a rock-solid recovery, one triggering situation can make you question your purpose and goals. On the one hand, you may be excited and grateful to spend time with loved ones. On the other hand, you may be prone to increased triggers and threats to your recovery.
We're here for you and your family. We're here to help you maintain your recovery momentum, even if things start feeling rough. Contact us today to get started!