Common Holiday Stressors in Recovery

The holiday season is right around the corner, and many people are excited by the music, decorations, events, meals, and gatherings that take place. It’s a time to see family and friends and relax. On the flip side, these same activities can be common holiday stressors for many people. The heightened expectations and activity can be causes of stress that people find difficult to manage.

This can be especially true if you are in recovery and feeling the pressure of mounting responsibilities, whether put on you by others or yourself. You don’t have to stress yourself out in order to enjoy the holidays; in fact, it’s much easier to have a good time if you don’t.

Balancing the Timetable

One joy of the holidays is spending time with family and friends celebrating. But this quality time together can also trigger arguments or heated moments as things get more hectic. The thought of everything you want to get done, everyone you want to see, and how you’ll fit it all in can lead to anxiety attacks. Knowing how to tackle recovery stress can help you feel calmer and in control.

Keep a calendar where you plan out your activities and can have a visual picture of what you are doing when. This can help you to avoid overbooking yourself and ensure you have necessary downtime. Self-care should still be a top priority. Writing down a to-do list can also help you to prioritize responsibilities and see when you may be taking on too much and need to ask for help.

It’s Okay to Say No to ‘One More Party’

Manage common holiday stressors by knowing when to say ‘no’. Holiday parties start around Halloween and go the whole way through New Year’s – but you don’t have to attend them all. If you’re in alcoholism recovery and know that your co-worker’s party will have a lot of drinking, politely decline. If you’d rather have dinner with one or two close friends than attend the neighborhood block party, there’s nothing wrong with that. You’re not obligated to accept every invitation, and saying no can help with learning how to tackle recovery stress around the holidays and throughout the year.

Make Time for Meetings

As you’re planning out the holiday season, don’t forget to schedule time to attend addiction recovery support group meetings or therapy groups. They can empower you to stay focused and motivated as you navigate challenging situations. They can also remind you of how far you have come and what you still want to achieve. Talking to others who understand exactly what you’re going through can help with handling holiday stress in recovery and reminding you to prioritize your well-being. This means spending time with family but also scheduling time for you and for support group meetings.

Be Realistic

Even with careful planning, holiday relapse can be a risk, as life is unpredictable. You can’t plan for everything. Be realistic and know that everything might not go as you envisioned. Be ready to deal with each day and situation as it happens, feeling confident that you can apply what you have learned in recovery to maintain your sobriety. Perhaps you have to skip out on that party, pick up a pie on the way to dinner, or duck outside for a few minutes to yourself so you can unwind and refocus. That’s okay.

Well-Being Above All

In the midst of all of the holiday hustle and bustle, don’t forget that your well-being is a priority. You’ve worked too hard in recovery to let some common holiday stressors bring you down. Try to stick to your normal sleep routine and healthy diet as much as possible. A few treats here and there or a late night now and then is okay, but make sure you’re taking care of yourself. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep can do a lot to boost your mood and help with handling holiday stress in recovery.

And don’t underestimate the benefits of alone time. Being around a lot of people can be physical and mentally exhausting. Take time for yourself; family and friends will understand. Do what you need to do to stay focused on your recovery while enabling yourself to enjoy the holidays.

Life is all about balance and moderation, so find what works best for you this holiday season. Know your triggers and make it a point to avoid spending time in situations you know will stress you out or ignite negative thinking. Don’t hesitate to reach out for addiction recovery support if you need it because your well-being is a priority. If the holidays are too much and you need additional help, reach out to Crossroads to see how we can assist you as you stay on track with recovery.