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Author Topic: Dealing With Holiday Stress  (Read 2821 times)


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Dealing With Holiday Stress
« on: December 14, 2015, 01:16:03 PM »
Positive Ways to Deal with Holiday Stressors

You don’t have to let holiday stress turn into holiday blues or holiday depression. Here are some practical tips that can help you get through the holidays with less stress and more pleasure, all while staying true to your recovery goals.

Be Realistic: We often expect the holidays to feel significantly different from the rest of the year, but this may be due to our constant exposure to cultural and commercialization cues. While childhood memories may conjure up warm and fuzzy scenes, we need to question whether these could be self-edited memories that have been influenced by repeated advertising messages.
In reality, the holidays are only going to be as happy and joyous as we make them, and accomplishing that requires work, which usually comes with added stress. It is up to us to balance our desired holiday reality with a realistic one.

Practice Self-Care and Prioritize Your Recovery: Avoid over-indulging on food, fun or festivities. The holidays are often a time of excess; we tend to worry less about our budget, our waistlines and our self-discipline. But there is no escaping the repercussions if we let ourselves “fall off the wagon” in any of these areas, especially when it comes to easing up on self-discipline as it relates to one’s recovery. While others can more easily get back on track after a holiday binge–of food, drink or other excess–for those in recovery it may not be a simple or easy task.

So while others “party hardy,” you may want to use exercise, such as walking, swimming, biking or working out to help release brain endorphins and stimulate serotonin, both of which can lift your mood. Volunteering and spending time in nature are also ways to get pleasurable brain chemicals flowing in a safe and positive way.

Disengage from Family Dysfunction: While family issues may present challenges during get-togethers, you can choose to set aside your resentments and, for the sake of the season, call a truce. Even if you are the only one to honor it, you will feel better about yourself if you refrain from the airing of grievance during the holiday celebration. You will also set an example for others that they may decide to follow in the future.

If you expect family members will insist on bringing up old issues and remind you of your shortcomings, plan ahead to have a non-confrontational come-back. Practice or role play your answers to common comments so that you are prepared and can maintain your composure and commitment to your truce.

You might consider having a heart-to-heart, direct conversation with one or more family members prior to your holiday celebration. Tell them of your intention to set aside resentments and ask if it is possible that they can do the same. Ask what you can do to make them feel more comfortable during the get-together, and then follow through on their suggestions. Save any discussion or disagreements regarding “fairness” of their requests for a follow-up feedback discussion after the holidays.

Remember Your Support System: While the holidays traditionally focus on family, for some “family” consists of those who, while not related by blood, are nonetheless close confidants and supporters. If you are in recovery, remember that you can always call on your support group friends and sponsor for additional assistance.

If you are feeling vulnerable, increase your attendance at meetings during the holiday season. Have a “sober buddy” attend functions with you, or come pick you up if needed. Plan to arrive late and leave early if you are uncertain about your ability to remain strong.


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