The holidays are a time for family, friends, and fun. But for people recovering from addiction, the holidays can be stressful. Triggers like being around family, attending holiday parties, and feeling pressure to drink or use drugs can make recovery more difficult. But there are ways to manage holiday stress and anxiety.
How Holidays Affect Mental Health
People in recovery or struggling with mental health often have an especially difficult time during the holidays. Some of the major sources of holiday stress and anxiety include:
- Seeing family members or attending holiday parties with people who still drink or use drugs
- Feeling pressure to participate in celebrations and social events centered around drinking and drug use
- Struggling with financial stress due to gift giving
- Facing reminders of traumatic experiences from the past
All of these triggers can make it difficult for people in recovery to stay focused on their sobriety, so it’s important to develop strategies to manage emotions.
3 Tips to Handle Holiday Stress and Anxiety
1. Make a Plan
If you know you’ll be in situations where you’re tempted to drink or use drugs, it’s important to have a plan ahead of time. Talk to your sponsor or therapist about how to deal with triggers. Make sure you have an exit strategy if things get too overwhelming. And remember, it’s okay to say no. You don’t have to attend every party or gathering you’re invited to.
2. Find Support
Surround yourself with people who will support your sobriety. This could be friends, family members, or fellow sober people. If you don’t have anyone who understands what you’re going through, seek support groups or counseling. It’s important to talk about how you’re feeling and to know that you’re not alone.
3. Take Care of Yourself
The holidays can be a busy time, but it’s important to take care of yourself physically and mentally. Exercise, eat healthy foods, and get enough sleep. Also, don’t forget to schedule some “me time” into your holiday plans. Relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Building Your Safety Net
It’s important to have a support system during the holidays. Even if you take time for yourself and make a plan, building a support network and relying on people in your life can be difficult. Some critical sources of support include:
- Family – Your family can be your rock, especially since you often share your strongest bonds with them. By connecting with people in your family and explaining your challenges, they can help you navigate family events so you can stay well.
- Friends – Your friends can provide a listening ear and emotionally support you when needed. If possible, attend group activities with your friends or plan sober outings to keep yourself engaged in recovery and surrounded by positive influences.
- Sponsors or therapists – Having someone who understands addiction and the dynamics of recovery can be an invaluable resource. A sponsor or therapist can help you work through your emotions, focus on your goals, and stay sober during the holidays.
- Support groups – It can be helpful to attend a 12-step program or other support groups for people in recovery. These meetings provide structure, accountability, and a safe space to talk about your experiences with like-minded people.
Start Healing at Insight Into Action Therapy
The holidays present challenges for people in recovery from addiction, but there are ways to cope with the added stressors of the season. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, professional help is available. Insight Into Action Therapy offers evidence-based treatment programs that can help you recover from addiction and mental health symptoms to build a foundation for long-term sobriety and wellness. Contact us online or by calling 703.935.8544 today to learn more about our programs and how we can help you manage holiday stress this season.