The holiday season brings more than tinsel and mistletoe, it can also bring long work days, high financial demands and difficult encounters with coworkers and family. Beyond just an expanded waistline and long credit card bill come January, all of that added stress can lead to an addiction relapse.
Here’s how to avoid those triggers and safely navigate “the most wonderful time of the year.”
If you find yourself pulled in all directions at once–holidays to plan, extra work demands, and gifts to buy–it’s a wonderful time to start being a list maker.
- Getting organized about gifts can keep you on budget.
- Arranging your schedule can help you stay rested.
- Planning your meals can help you stay well-fed.
When you rush around trying to get everything done, self-care can go out the window. It’s when your defenses are down that you might get ill, walk into a verbal “trap” with a family member you might normally avoid, or overspend and overstress.
An important aspect of self-care is learning when to say no. You might need the money, and so pick up an extra shift, or there’s a big push on a project at work, but it might be the right time to politely refuse. A party could be part of the festivities with friends or family, but if you want to avoid alcohol being served, or just need a night of sufficient rest after a stressful day at work, it’s okay to just say no.
Saying “no” before you have a meltdown or relapse is a much better strategy than waiting until you are completely overwhelmed.
Ask for Help
Even if you say no to the things that you can, you may find you have more on your plate than you can effectively complete. So, reach out to friends, family or a neighbor. Get childcare from a friend so you can have a couple of hours to yourself. Ask for a holiday bonus if you are having trouble making ends meet. See if a friend will help you prepare your house for visitors or hang up those holiday decorations.
Feeling like you have to be the one to do everything is very common, but it doesn’t mean you can’t train yourself to be willing to ask for help. Sometimes the people most willing to be helpful to others have the hardest time asking for it themselves. If you are one of those people, there’s never been a better time to start.
Break up Your Routine
Sometimes the easiest ways to relax are not the most effective. Binge-watching television, scrolling through social media for hours, or turning to substance addiction are not how to relax after stress. Here are some suggestions on what to do after a stressful day:
- Exercise – Proven to be one of the most effective means of de-stressing, even a thirty-minute walk or a ten-minute power workout each day to unwind, can make a world of difference.
- Talk to someone – Having a confidant can even boost health and even increase life expectancy.
- Pursue a hobby – As busy as the season may be, if you don’t carve out a small window each week for an activity of your own choosing, it can have a negative health effect.
Stay the Course
If all else fails, remember that even in this season of short days and long dark hours, nothing lasts forever. Soon the holiday season will be over, so if you can find even a few minutes of humor, joy, or happiness, you will make it through and avoid an addiction relapse.