The Christmas holiday season is a time of celebration with a focus on family and community. Almost everyone feels some stress around the holiday season. Our relationships are not as perfect as we want them to be, perhaps. Money and time to create something that lives up to mythic expectations are scarce. For addicts, the holiday season can be especially stressful. Recovering addicts’ relationships are often fraught. Addressing issues in relationships and repairing the damage done by addiction can take years. Other family members may have their own addiction issues. Traditions may bring up family history that triggers difficult emotions. For some, family is not an issue; isolation can be a problem too. If you or someone you know is in recovery, you know it is hard work. There is no greater gift than continuing sobriety. So let’s consider some strategies for staying sober during the holidays.
Make A Plan
To succeed in recovery in general, you need to make a firm commitment to abstinence. Then you need to demonstrate the commitment by following through with lifestyle changes. And finally, you need to recognize possible triggers that will threaten your sobriety and plan and practice your response. The holidays offer ample opportunity to practice this third technique, taken from cognitive behavioral therapy. From a practical standpoint, when attending stressful holiday gatherings, consider scheduling a check-in with your sponsor. Make sure you have a way to leave if you feel that you need to. Organize allies who understand your need to avoid triggering personalities.
Play It Safe
Keep in mind, you don’t have to go. Sometimes staying home is the best plan. If you know everyone will be drinking at gathering and you are not confident you can stay sober, don’t go. If the relationships involved in the gathering are sufficiently stressful that they put your recovery at risk, politely decline the invitation.
Find Volunteer Opportunities
Addiction teaches us to separate ourselves and our problem from others, focusing inward on maintaining the addiction above all else. It changes the reward circuits in our brains. We can rebuild our capacity for healthy connection deliberately. Our brains are designed so that giving feels good. When we seek out opportunities to give, we rebuild those healthy reward circuits. Volunteering is a great way to experience healthy social connection. It’s especially helpful for those who feel lonely around the holidays.
Take Care Of Yourself
Stress takes a physical toll. Keeping up with proper nutrition and getting enough exercise and sleep will help you cope with stress. Keeping yourself physically healthy supports your mental and emotional health. Do things you enjoy and practice cultivating gratitude. Consider meditation and yoga, forms of self-care that we teach at Seasons Bali. Find some quiet time for yourself each day.
Acceptance, Not Expectations
Realize that everyone feels stress around the holidays. Accepting that life is imperfect and some things are beyond our control is an important part of recovery. When you relax your expectations and just accept your holiday reality as it is, you can enjoy it with far less stress and risk to your recovery.
Get The Therapy You Need
Whether you are in ongoing therapy or not, you might need some around the holidays. Seasons Bali has an ongoing E-Therapy program for our clients. Recovering addicts who have been to Seasons can get in touch with people who really know their personal challenges in detail. If you choose Seasons, the same skilled, compassionate and experienced therapists who helped them start down the road of recovery in the first place will be there for you, wherever and whenever you need them.
If you are reading this because of someone else, you might think the holidays are the wrong time to try to get someone into addiction treatment. But you may find the person you care about is most receptive to tidings of hope during the holiday season. You care about them. You want them to have a better life. Let them know it is waiting for them. Help them recognize they have a problem and get help.
Learn More About Our Addiction Recovery Program
Seasons Bali offers support for people struggling with addiction. You are here reading this, so it’s probably time for you or someone you care about to take some steps toward a much better life. It takes work but you can leave the unfulfilling cycle and the suffering behind.
If someone you care about has a problem with alcohol (or any other form of addiction) talk to someone who understands. We are here to help. Call one of our experts today at (toll-free Australia) 1800 288 348 +61 398045757 or email us at [email protected] and we will call you.