Protect Your Sobriety During the Winter Holidays
Although the holidays are often a time of parties, family gatherings, gift giving and winter activities, this time of year can be difficult for those who suffer from depression, anxiety, or are in recovery. It is an important time to take stock of your feelings and the things that may be stressful so you can protect your recovery process and maintain positive mental health practices. The unique stressors that come with the holidays may trigger depression or trauma-based behaviors. Exposure to family toxicity, memories of childhood trauma, addiction temptation and disruption to routine will require a solid plan for self-care and frequent check-ins with yourself.
With dedication and a clear vision of your goals and desire to persevere despite outside stressors, you can navigate the holidays and better maintain your recovery. Whether you are recovering from drug or alcohol addiction, recovering from an eating disorder, or are fighting depression, you can use the tips provided by our team at Fresh Start of California to get through the holidays and continue moving forward.
Take Care of Yourself During the Holidays
Avoid the stressors and risks of holiday blues by being aware of them and counter-acting them with mindful choices. Being self-aware and prepared is your best defense when facing disruptions to your routine.
Routine: Stick to your routine and current self-care regimen as much as you can during the holidays. Eat healthy, balanced meals when not at gatherings or parties and continue with your exercise regimen or modify it to accommodate changes in routine, such as moving it or making shorter visits but going harder. If journaling is part of your recovery process, bring it with you wherever you go and take 10-15 minutes out of the day to write. If you practice meditation or yoga, carve out 30-60 minutes a few times each week to be sure you are finding your center and relaxing amongst the chaos. If your routine involves going to meetings, seek out meeting options in the place you are visiting or ask your sponsor to help you link up with someone in the town you are traveling to. It is better to be prepared than to scramble once out of town and facing temptation.
Expectations: Be mindful of setting unrealistic expectations. Whether it is tackling a holiday party where there will be alcohol or visiting family who do not know of your eating necessities, you must set realistic expectations and be prepared. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you must protect your recovery by declining or by planning ahead. If you are recovering from an eating disorder and are worried about food choices at a family event, bring your own alternatives that you feel comfortable eating, or eat before you go. This can help to not fall into a precarious spot where you may be triggered to fall back into old habits. If you are in recovery from substance abuse, consider bringing your own cooler with non-alcoholic beverages, or attend sober holiday events rather than put yourself in a dangerous place. Protect your sobriety as if it is your life, because it is. When facing family obligations, or financial obligations, remind yourself that the holidays will pass, and those who care about you will understand that you have limitations. Pressure to spend lots of money or to spend all of your time with family is unrealistic and will be detrimental in the long run. It is not worth it.
Comparison: The holidays will undoubtedly result in tons of photos on social media. Most of these will be staged and well edited. Be aware of the reality versus social media life, these photos can skew perception. Your reality, and their reality, is not what they share online or on social media. Keep this in mind when you may be suffering and everyone around you is showing their good side. Mindfully choose gifts, if you are buying them, and pay attention to the thought rather than the price tag. Being aware of the things that you tend to do when thoughts of comparison arise can help you be prepared and to fight those thoughts before they take hold.
Scheduling: Do not make the mistake of packing your schedule full of activities and obligations. Be conscious of the fact that you may need to cut back on family gatherings, parties, and running-around while you are in recovery. You will risk burnout and potential relapse or addiction behaviors if you are pushed to the max with obligations. If you do need to schedule events, schedule down-time as well, and stick to it.
Gratitude: Counteract the stressors by practicing gratitude. Give back to your community, volunteer, help others in recovery, or do something for your local animal shelter. Giving back is a surefire way to feel good during the holidays while brightening another’s day. The attitude of gratitude goes a long way. Write out a list of things you are thankful for, from your first breath of the day, to your warm bed, to the chance to make new memories. Make plans with friends to go to a retirement home and spend time with people who no longer have family visitors, or volunteer to feed the homeless. You can’t lose when helping others.
Find Recovery at Fresh Start of California
Our California addiction treatment team understand that everyone’s recovery needs are different. And we know that when you decide to make a change, it helps to have a dedicated and enthusiastic team beside you to walk the path of recovery. At Fresh Start of California, we are here for you, and we want you to succeed. Protect your recovery this holiday season or take this time to take steps to a new life.
Find our team of addiction specialists, therapists and staff ready when you are this holiday season.