Most of us get really stressed out during the holidays. And, for those of us in recovery, there’s a perfectly legitimate reason for holiday stress: the risk of relapse. Even if you avoid alcohol-laden parties, triggers like stress, family conflict and poor sleep and eating habits are abundant this season. What’s more, depression and anxiety often increase with mounting to-dos and unrealistic expectations.
Luckily, a little preparation can help you stay sane and sober. Start with these ideas:
- Be honest with yourself: What are your personal triggers? What stresses you out most? Recognizing and addresses these issues head-on will ensure that you’re not caught off guard this season.
- Have sober fun: The great thing about the holiday season is that there are a ton of sober activities to help lighten your mood. For example, you can go ice skating or caroling or take a stroll or drive at night to admire the festive lights. Or, pop some popcorn and cue up some funny holiday movies.
- Do what’s best for your recovery: Especially if you’re in early recovery, you need to put yourself first this season. And this may mean putting a few holiday traditions on hold to ensure your sobriety. For example, if a big family gathering is a source of stress, then make plans to visit before or after the festivities. Or, plan a quiet night with a friend or loved one who supports your sobriety.
- Pick an inspirational quote: Pin it up where it’s visible or memorize it, and repeat it to yourself anytime you feel like you need extra encouragement.
- Be grateful: Gratitude really is a year-round recovery tool. Take time to really think about what you’re thankful for this year. This type of positive thinking will help keep you calm and focused.
- Prioritize personal health and wellness: Healthy habits should be high on your holiday to-do list. Skimping on sleep and exercise and overindulging on food, for example, will only add to your stress.
- Take a breather: Give yourself time every day to simply clear your mind and restore inner calm. Try meditating or deep breathing exercises.
Minding Your Mental Health Year-round
At NorthStar, we offer general wellness programming to help clients develop healthy habits and routines to restore emotional balance. To learn more about our health and wellness programs, call us today: 303-625-6335.