The holidays quickly approach each year, and many people feel excitement and joy during these times. Others feel sad, worried, or depressed. A recent study showed that 49% of people feel anxious about the holiday season. When you’re in recovery, you might feel all these things. You might also fear that the holidays will lead to relapsing. Life and events change around the holidays, which can cause stress and disrupt your recovery. You don’t have to relapse or dread the holiday season. Learn tips to help you prevent relapsing during the holidays.
Understand the Challenges
In recovery, you learn the importance of developing and following a schedule. A schedule leads to doing the same daily activities, which is healthy and important. In fact, a schedule is vital to recovery. Schedules change during the holiday season, which is a challenge in recovery.
You might be exposed to alcohol and drugs at various functions or gatherings. You might see a bar full of drinks when you arrive at a function. You might notice that everyone has a drink in their hand. They might even offer you one. Understanding these challenges can help you know what you’re up against. When you understand what they are, you can plan accordingly. Think about what challenges you’ll face and devise a plan to address them. A plan can entail attending more meetings during the holidays, bringing your own NA drinks to functions, or rehearsing what you will say if someone offers you a drink.
Triggers are something you learn about in recovery. They’re the things that cause you to relapse, and everyone has unique triggers. Acquiring a solid understanding of your triggers is vital to managing the holiday season, but you must also learn how to avoid them. Having a plan for dealing with triggers is essential; sometimes, the best plan is to avoid triggers.
You likely have people that trigger you to want to use. These people might even be relatives or old friends you’ll run into at family get-togethers. You may need to avoid certain family functions if this is the case. Another trigger might be places. If some physical locations trigger you, avoid them. Placing yourself in situations that will contain triggers isn’t wise.
Stay accountable to someone during the holidays. Discuss your concerns and check in with that person. If you attend a recovery program, you may have a sponsor or counselor to talk to, and this is the person you confide in. They hold you accountable for your actions and walk you off the ledge if needed. They also provide tips and strategies to help you avoid relapsing.
Your accountability partner will encourage you. They can also motivate you to continue moving forward in your sobriety. If you have someone like this, keep talking to them throughout the holidays. If you don’t have one, you can get one by enrolling in a substance abuse program. You can also find them by attending local support groups.
Volunteer and Serve
Many find that volunteering provides a way to avoid relapsing. Helping others gives you a purpose and keeps you busy in a productive and meaningful manner. The good news is you can find many volunteering opportunities during the holidays. Check-in with soup kitchens, homeless shelters, hospitals, or nursing homes. Even animal shelters often have volunteer opportunities. When celebrating the holidays through volunteering, you focus on helping others.
Service is about helping others, but you’ll often benefit from it. Volunteering gets you out of your own head and makes you focus on others. It can be life-changing.
Continue Self-Care Habits
You might be off your regular schedule during the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you should stop your self-care habits. Continue exercising because it is such a helpful aspect of recovery. Movement is good for your body, mind, and spirit.
Counseling is another common self-care habit during recovery. If you currently go, keep all your weekly visits. You’ll need the support more during these times. Continuing counseling is especially important if you struggle with PTSD. You may need the extra help to manage your PTSD symptoms during the holidays.
Attending support group meetings is also self-care. These meetings provide you with accountability and encouragement. They help you learn strategies for preventing relapse and much more. These meetings are helpful for anyone in recovery.
Stick With a Budget
Don’t let your finances affect you negatively. In other words, don’t feel like you have to spend a lot of money on gifts for people. Stick to a budget. Finances can be a significant source of stress during the holidays, but you can avoid this by working with what you have. Setting a budget can help you avoid falling into debt. It can also help you avoid the stress of overspending.
Avoid Stress During Your Recovery
Overspending is one source of stress, but there are plenty of other stress sources. Stress is also a trigger for many of us; therefore, look for ways to avoid it. You can avoid financial stress by setting a budget. You can prevent the stress of dealing with unruly family members by declining to attend specific parties.
Seek Professional Help
Recovery is a process. For many of us, it’s a lifelong journey that requires work and dedication, but it’s possible and rewarding. Reach out to us at Comprehensive Wellness Centers if you’re struggling or want to take your next step toward recovery. We can help.
We have a team of certified professionals offering a personalized approach. It can make a difference whether you’re just breaking an addiction or years into your recovery.