It’s the end of the year which means that the holidays are in full swing. No matter what you celebrate, December is always a busy month and tends to go by in a total whirlwind. It truly is the busiest time of year: from gathering with friends and family, shopping for gifts, to decorating everything—your home, the tree, all those cookies—there’s a lot going on right now. While this time of year can be incredibly heartwarming and fun for many people, it can also be an extraordinarily triggering time for others, especially those who are in recovery.
Common Holiday Triggers
In terms of recovery, a trigger is an external stimulus that causes you to feel stressed, anxious, uneasy, frustrated, etc., and can be so troubling that it makes you want to use drugs or alcohol again. Experiencing a trigger is challenging and can happen any time of year, but during the holiday season, there always seem to be more triggers than at any other time. Some of the common triggers that people experience during the holidays are:
- Navigating difficult family relationships
- Spending time alone, especially when it seems like everyone else is with friends and family
- Dealing with the pressure that comes with gift giving
- Holiday shopping and large crowds
- Constantly feeling like you have to be ‘on’
- More frequent interactions with those who are drinking alcohol or using drugs
- Pressure to have the ‘perfect’ party, event, or meal
- An overbooked schedule
7 Tips for Making it Through the Holidays in Recovery
With the influx of triggers, it’s not surprising that the rate of relapse jumps 150% after Thanksgiving. It can be difficult for a recovering addict to stay merry and bright – and sober. However, we hope that with these seven tips, you’ll be able to make it through this holiday much more easily.
1. Take It One Day at a Time
We know, we know. This old adage. But it’s true. It’s easy to get lost in your calendar this time of year, so remember to slow down, take a breath, and take it…One. Day. At. A. Time. Make a tentative schedule and plan for yourself each week, but every day take time to focus on yourself and your needs, and if you need to cancel plans or reschedule something, that’s ok!
2. Identify Your Triggers
Putting a name to something can help take some of the power away from it. Make a list and identify your triggers so that you not only understand yourself a little bit better but so that you can also give yourself back some of your power and control. And when you know what your triggers are, it will be easier to decide which events and gatherings you want to attend.
3. Come Up with a Game Plan
Understanding your triggers is only the first step. The second step is to come up with a game plan. This is another helpful way to give yourself back a little bit of that power that we always seem to lose when triggered. Creating a solid game plan for each of your triggers is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself this holiday season.
4. Take care of Yourself
Make sure to take a little time for yourself every single day. Whether it’s a bubble bath, a hot yoga class, curling up with a book for 30 minutes, or hitting the slopes for a lunchtime ski run, make sure you’re doing something to take care of yourself every day. You’ll be more relaxed and more in tune with your emotions and needs.
If you’re invited to a holiday party, bring a case of your favorite non-alcoholic beverage, or ask the host if they can add your favorite mocktail to the menu. Ensuring you have access to a non-alcoholic beverage will help alleviate the anxiety that comes with being surrounded by only alcoholic choices at the next holiday party.
Volunteering is a great way to manage stress, minimize triggers, and help others. The holidays can be challenging for so many people, and volunteering is a wonderful way to help others who might also be struggling in one way or another right now. Plus, when you’re helping others, you’re giving yourself an opportunity to get outside of yourself for a little bit.
7. Lean on Your Support System
Reach out to your sponsor, close friends, and family, and be honest with them. Ask for help if you need it. Let them know that you might need extra support this month, and don’t try to take everything on yourself. It’s ok to ask for help and to utilize your support system. That’s what they’re there for, after all.
The holidays can be a magical time of year, but for some people, they can also be incredibly disheartening. If you or someone you know is struggling this holiday season, try to utilize our advice above, go to extra AA meetings, get in an extra session with your therapist, or start a new form of therapy. And remember, if you’re struggling this holiday season, you are not alone.
Find Support at Women’s Recovery
If you or a woman that you love is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction and you’d like to learn more about us, contact us today online or by calling us at 833.754.0554. At Women’s Recovery, we offer support to women in Colorado who are ready to end their relationship with drugs and alcohol and are ready to start living the life they were meant for.