The holiday season can be an exhausting and stressful time of the year which can trigger many mental health challenges. Those who are recovering or struggling with an active addiction can have a very difficult time during the holidays.
Here are three tips on how to combat substance use during the holiday season:
- Increase Support. It is easy to get overwhelmed with the erratic nature of the season. As you plan each day, start with 12-step support as your first priority. This could mean bookending a holiday event with phone calls to someone in recovery before and after the event. Commit to attending a 12-step meeting (or two) each day and inviting a friend to attend with you. Also, if you’re traveling to another city, plan ahead and make sure you attend meetings there as well or pick up a phone meeting.
- Make Self Care a Priority. Celebrate the holiday season by taking care of your body, mind, and soul. We cannot be our very best if we are depleted. Give yourself the gift of time for yourself: an acupuncture treatment, a yoga class, meditation, and prayer. Proper nutrition and plenty of healthy physical movement will make you feel stronger, both physically and emotionally.
- Be mindful of time spent around your relatives – know your limits. We all have our own version of crazy Aunt Mildred who is going to criticize your career choice and make you feel “less than” or Uncle Harry who will insist on you having his famous holiday drink. And even worse, we most likely have strained family relationships that have been simmering for years. This type of stress can lead us to rationalize and convince ourselves we are entitled to a drink. Instead, surround yourself with supportive loved ones that will help you follow the steps to staying clean and sober.