The Holidays Are Upon Us
It seems like people start getting ready for the holidays earlier and earlier each year.
For example, have you noticed how retailers are eager to have you start thinking about buying holiday gifts in the middle of the summer? Or how Halloween barely holds its own against the early onslaught of November and December holidays? Or how your neighbor starts lighting up their house well before you think it is appropriate or how your favorite radio station switches to all Christmas all the time when you are not ready to give up the latest “song of the summer”?
All of that stuff is annoying—even if you generally enjoy the holidays. But for many people, the holidays themselves are challenging. This can especially be true for people in recovery.
Let us offer you a holiday gift: some strategies for navigating the holidays with your sobriety intact.
Don’t Do Too Much
The holidays sometimes seem to be a contest. Who can attend or host the most parties, bake the most cookies, attend the most religious services, wrap the most presents, and on and on. It can feel as though celebrating the holidays is your job.
But it’s not. To the extent that you have a “job” to do during the holidays, it is this: stay sober.
So pace yourself. Feel free to turn down invitations or to leave an event early. Don’t feel like you have to battle the crowds or spend lots of money in order to give thoughtful gifts. Don’t feel obligated to bake every kind of cookie your family has enjoyed (in fact, don’t feel obligated to bake cookies at all unless you enjoy it).
When you are in recovery, setting boundaries is important. And it doesn’t make you a Grinch if you set some firm boundaries during the holidays.
Stay Focused on Your Physical & Mental Health
We know that staying healthy—physically and mentally—is important to maintaining sobriety. And that’s certainly true during the holiday season.
On the physical side of things, keep eating right, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. Doing so can make the holiday season more manageable.
When it comes to mental health, we would be remiss if we did not mention that the holidays are known to have a negative impact on the mental well-being of many, many people. If you are among them, you need to take care to manage your mental health effectively so that you are less likely to relapse. If you take medication, stay on it.
If you see a therapist, keep your appointments. If you have other strategies for bolstering your mental health, keep them in play. And if you feel yourself struggling more than usual, reach out for help.
There Is a Lot to Be Grateful for During the Holidays
Ideally, the holidays offer a wonderful opportunity to remember all of the things for which you are grateful—including your sobriety. It is all too easy to lose that sense of gratitude in the hustle and bustle of the season, but if you can avoid falling into that trap, you may find that some of the themes of the holidays—like love, tradition, and gratitude—can actually support your ongoing sobriety. The key is to focus on the meaning of the holidays rather than all of the extra things we have piled on top of that meaning. So lean into the gratitude and give yourself some grace when it comes to everything else.
No Matter the Season, Give Yourself the Gift of Treatment
Addiction knows no season. If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, the right time to get the help you need is right now.
At Wooded Glen Recovery Center, we focus on each individual’s specific needs so that we can personalize a plan of treatment. Through medically supervised detoxification and a robust rehabilitation program, we will help you get sober and get prepared to stay sober. That preparation includes addressing any co-occurring mental health disorders that may be contributing to—or be worsened by—your substance use disorder. As we have noted, good mental health and sobriety are intertwined, and Wooded Glen Recovery Center can help in both areas.
During the holidays, we are constantly being told it is “the most wonderful time of the year.” But the truth is that when you regain your sobriety and get a fresh start—regardless of the season or the date on the calendar—that is the most wonderful time of the year. Don’t wait. We can help now.