In every year’s holiday season, festivities present unique challenges for individuals in addiction recovery. For someone in recovery, holiday-related stressors can present potential threats to sobriety.
How can we enjoy the holidays without jeopardizing our recovery journey? Let’s start by understanding the effects of these stressors.
How do holiday stressors threaten recovery?
Holiday celebrations can present a quandary for those in early recovery. If you are newly sober, you are excited about life and want to enjoy the festivities just like everyone else. This means accepting invitations to different gatherings or parties to see your friends and enjoy the season’s delights.
That said, attending such events could present you with many triggers. Being exposed to alcohol, drugs, and partying may be asking too much of yourself when in early recovery. Parties, however, aren’t the only problematic stressors that people in recovery face during the holidays.
What are the other stressors you could face in recovery?
5 holiday stressors to keep an eye on during recovery
As beautiful and meaningful as the holiday season can be, it’s no secret that stress levels can run high during these months. In order to enjoy the season as much as possible while also maintaining your sobriety, try to minimize these stressors:
- Holiday parties: If it is your first holiday season in recovery, there is much wisdom in the idea of just sitting out this year. Skipping the parties altogether instantly eliminates one of the most significant sources of stress during the holidays. If you do decide to attend a party or two, be sure to have a sober friend with you, keep a non-alcoholic beverage in hand and create an exit plan in advance.
- Being over-scheduled: Most of us feel stressed out during the holidays because we attempt to squeeze in too much into our schedules. All the extra family events, shopping, decorating and entertaining can leave you stressed and worn out. Learn to say no to things and don’t overcommit. Make sure to practice self-care along the way, like yoga classes, workouts and even a massage to keep stress under control.
- Financial stress: The holidays are known for being budget-busters. It’s easy to lose control over your budget when you have kids who make their wish lists a little too long. Before you know it, between the gift shopping and all the related holiday expenses, you might find yourself being over budget. Resist the urge to overspend this year by setting a realistic budget and sticking to it.
- Relationship stress: The holidays are notorious for bringing up old relationship wounds. Whether it is a family conflict, marital problems or issues with a friend or colleague, feelings of resentment, anger and pain can bubble up during the holidays. Avoid any sort of emotionally-charged fights or discussions during the holidays.
- Emotional stress: You might find that you’re struggling with your own mental health during the holidays. There may be residual feelings of guilt and shame for the harm you may have caused loved ones while in active addiction. Keep an eye out for symptoms of depression or anxiety, as these conditions seem to increase during the holidays. Schedule a weekly therapy session to help you work through these emotions if needed.
It’s essential to remain vigilant and prioritize your recovery. Reach out to your sober support network as needed to help you stay motivated. By avoiding these five stressors, or at least keeping them to a minimum, you can learn to enjoy this upcoming holiday season in sobriety.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call 866-313-6307.