Many people feel an overwhelming sense of loss and isolation during the holidays, and those feelings and emotions can trigger a relapse and use of alcohol or drugs to mask the pain.
Mental health challenges and addictive tendencies are heightened by stress and triggers. For those struggling to stay sober during the holiday season and on the path to recovery, it’s important to prepare, increase self-care and stay connected.
Read on to learn how.
Isolation happens when we don’t avoid common holiday pitfalls while trying to decorate, buy food and gifts for loved ones, planning and attending lavish parties and holiday celebrations is a difficult task for anyone. Now, imagine how difficult it would be if you were trying to avoid temptations and maintain a sober lifestyle while everyone else is living it up. Preparation is they key long-term sobriety.
Common pitfalls might include:
- Sleep deprivation: Lack of self-control, impulsive and risky behaviors can all be attributed to lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation impairs our ability to regulate our emotions and puts us at risk for destructive behavior to creep in. One solution: Try a 20 minute power nap and make sure to get plenty of sleep each night.
- Sensory overload: Are you feeling agitated, aggressive or more emotional? Take time to recognize and regulate the sensory overload you are experiencing. Noise, lights, crowds, new foods and new traditions of the holiday season can easily trigger feelings of an imminent meltdown. One solution: Try re-calibrating your thoughts in a quiet place. Take a few minutes to remove yourself from the activities and commotion. Practice a few breathing exercises and relaxation techniques. They can provide the solitude your brain is seeking.
- Eating healthy foods: When stress levels increase, our bodies release stress hormones. The holiday season can increase our stress levels making it difficult to resist excessive high-sugar and high-fat foods that leave us feeling flat and fatigued. One solution: Try to increase low-fat proteins and vegetables. Fill your holiday plate with healthy food before adding the sweet treats. Exercise daily when possible.
- Remember how far you or your loved one has come. Send positive reminders and words of encouragement often.
- Remind yourself or your loved one of their happy and healthy future. Remind them to use the tools and strategies they have learned to help them to resist temptations. Offer to help with role-playing and planning for situations that may arise during social gatherings.
- Reset quickly if you slip into old patterns that might lead to relapse. Take corrective steps to acknowledge the relapse, recommit to your recovery plan and reach out to your social support team often.
If you are feeling isolated or disconnected, we are here for you. Please call us so we can help 1-877-890-0248