Coping with Holiday Sadness During Recovery
The holidays are supposed to be a cheerful time to spend with family and friends. For those in addiction recovery, the holidays can uncover unwanted emotions and memories. Additionally, the high stress, high expectations, and high commitment that the holidays bring give others in recovery a feeling of dread and despair. If you are in recovery and you are starting to feel the holiday blues, it is important to prepare yourself so that relapse does not occur and the cycle of addiction does not commence once again. For anyone having difficulty with the holidays approaching, there are a few tips to conquering the holiday sadness.
Focus on Yourself
Although the holidays are a time to think about others, do not overdo it. Take time for yourself daily to sort out your thoughts and relieve some anxiety. Think about things that you know that you are thankful for and the stresses of the holidays will seem minimal in comparison. If meditation helps manage your stress, make sure to put a few moments aside each day to give your mind some quiet time.
Moderate your Diet
To prevent holiday sadness that relates to brand new love handles, try to keep your diet moderated. A diet high in sugars will cause you to crash, making you feel more upset than necessary. Also, remember to get some exercise in so that your endorphin levels remain high and your moods are more easily manageable. Fight exhaustion with the right amount of sleep that you need. Sleep is also vital for mood regulation and can help with unexpected holiday sadness.
Plan Support in Advance
If you know that you are going to have to spend the holidays alone, be prepared to be lonely. It’s a good thing that you know if you’ll be alone in advance because you can plan meetings with non-family members who support your recovery and sobriety. Reach out to sponsors, treatment peers, and friends who would spend some time away from their families to help you during the holidays so that you won’t have to go about every moment alone.
Those who experience holiday sadness during recovery often feel so because it is the first holiday season they will be spending without the comfort of drugs or alcohol. It’s hard to walk away from tradition and classify every holiday as a fail just from drug or alcohol use. Just because you can no longer celebrate the holidays with your drug of choice does not mean that your holidays have to be ruined. Find new ways to celebrate the holidays like attending events you wouldn’t have if you weren’t sober, planning holiday gatherings, or simply going to recovery meetings to spend time with peers.
The holidays are a great time to freshen up your mind on recovery goals. Determine what you would like to accomplish in the year with your recovery goals in mind. Additionally, since you know that holiday sadness is upon you, plan to attend 12 step meetings so that you can focus on recovery during the holiday season.
Let it Go
Holding past resentments can prove deadly as they are a cause for a number of relapses annually. The holiday season is a great way to release the resentments that are holding your recovery goals back. If you release the anger and hate that causes your holiday sadness, you can enjoy your holiday season and not worry so much about your sobriety goals. The holidays are also a great time to focus on your spirituality. Even if you aren’t a religious person, work to understand your spiritual connection during this magical time of year. Once you can identify with a higher power, you will find that sobriety will come easier for you, especially during the holidays.
Make your own Drinks
Many times during the holidays it can be difficult to celebrate without being tempted to drink. This can bring holiday sadness if you deter from celebrating just so that you do not have to deal with temptation. To prevent unwanted drinks, always make your own drinks and carry one around at all times. If you always have a drink in your hand, no one will ever assume that you need another. Additionally, if you are going to a party where you know there will be drinking it is best to keep a peer that motivates you to remain sober with you. This way, you will have helpful monitoring and motivation from a friend while you celebrate the holidays.
The most important thing to remember about holiday sadness is the fact that it is okay to seek help. If you find yourself concerned about holiday sadness and possible relapse, be sure you reach out for help. Talk to your therapist, counselor, or doctor about the reasons you feel that the holidays bring you the blues. If you can identify the underlying causes of your holiday sadness, you can confront and rid yourself of those problems. Sometimes all it takes is a professional opinion to get your mind back in the right state during recovery.