When the holiday season rolls around, it can stir many emotions for people in recovery; anxiety, excitement, dread, joy, and other conflicting feelings creating a rollercoaster of ups and downs. While the world busily prepares for numerous gatherings, gift-giving, and libations, those with substance use disorder are often working twice as hard to manage their recovery while participating in the spirit of the holidays to join their family and loved ones. Still, being in recovery doesn’t mean that people maintaining their sobriety can’t join in on the celebrations! With some proper planning and preparation, the 2021 holidays are bound to be memorable.
For people new to recovery, the holiday season can bring an onslaught of invitations to parties and functions from loved ones who want to encourage them to reconnect. Though the invites are well-intended, overcommitting to attend every brunch, luncheon, and dinner can quickly become stressful and triggering. Keeping a calendar of RSVPs is the perfect way to stay on track and prepare for each occasion, making sure to plan personal goals and tending to responsibilities as top priorities.
Gracefully declining an invite, for whatever reason, can quickly become an art form during the holiday season. Having an arsenal of prepared, thoughtful rejections can ease any discomfort or awkwardness, especially in situations where social events are avoided due to potential triggers or individuals who are best avoided. While it may be difficult to say no to some people, the risk of stretching oneself too thin and neglecting recovery work and self-maintenance can threaten sobriety and overall health.
For those new to recovery, anticipating people’s inquiries about treatment and addiction can be daunting. Most will gladly avoid the topic, while others may pry or ask well-intentioned questions, hoping to learn more about how they can help and be supportive. Mentally preparing a handful of short but to-the-point responses to these questions can ease tension and make social events seem much less intimidating.
When “event season” is in full swing, it can feel like an endless race, going from one social occasion to the next. Once the initial novelty of socializing for hours wears off, exhaustion can strike, and swiftly so! During the holiday season, dedicating time for self-care is essential, especially for mental and emotional “check-ins” while keeping up a busy schedule. It’s simply too easy to get swept up in the “togetherness” that the holidays promote, and while rekindling connections with loved ones can be positive and rewarding, taking time outs to regroup is well deserved and needed.
Almost everyone has a relative or acquaintance they’d rather avoid, and their presence can quickly morph into a triggering situation for those in recovery. Sometimes even the most innocent social gatherings can suddenly go awry with an abundance of alcohol and personalities in a room. Always having an “escape route” out of a party is vital in these instances, including a way to arrive home or a safe place to retreat. Thankfully, with a wide array of rideshare options today, it’s never been easier to leave an unsavory environment where potential triggers can lurk.
Journaling after a streak of social interaction can be beneficial for recovery in numerous ways. Reflecting on experiences, emotions, and overall thoughts of how things went, both positive and negative, can provide stepping stones for new goals and inspiration. If these sessions of reflection seem particularly difficult, they may reveal things out of balance in the recovery process and worthy of a closer look. It’s important to remember that these events should be overall positive and beneficial, not stressful and tasking.
Being in addiction recovery shouldn’t mean that holidays have to be a drag. It’s a great time to reconnect with friends and family to help turn a new leaf and create new traditions and memories! This holiday season could be an invigorating and inspirational experience with a bit of intentional planning and well-measured self-assurance.
Middlesex Recovery provides effective addiction treatment in professional office-based outpatient facilities. Specialized medical providers and compassionate nursing staff tend to patients from all walks of life who are ready to embark on the journey towards long-lasting recovery. Call or message a local Middlesex Recovery facility today to learn more about our substance use disorder treatment programs.