Tips For Managing Holiday Stress

For many of us, the holidays can be a stressful time. We all know travel can be stressful, and there can be a lot of it around the holidays. We know seeing people from our past can be stressful. This happens around the holidays too. Oftentimes there are many parties around the holidays. These can be temptations to relapse. Consumerism, increased financial stress, the gloom of the winter… you guessed it. All things that happen around the holidays. 

And they can pile up, making life almost unbearable. On the other hand, the holidays can be lonely. Being at the mall and seeing happy families, not wanting to go to places where one used to go to avoid temptation, having to start a relatively new life over with different traditions, these can be depressing or even stressful. 

It’s no secret that the holidays are one of the most common times for suicide and drug and alcohol relapse. But it doesn’t have to be that way. WIth some helpful tips you can not only remain healthy though this time, but you might even have a great time as well.    

How Addiction And Stress Overlap

While there are mountains of anecdotal evidence, the research is also clear: stress and relapse for using drugs or alcohol are inexplicably linked. Scientists don’t clearly understand the pathways between the two, but we know that when an individual is under more stress they are more likely to relapse. 

Not that groundbreaking, right? The people at AA and NA meetings have known this for decades.

Perhaps. But knowing is half of the battle, and when you know the holidays can be stressful you can come up with a plan to defeat it. Perhaps the most important part of dealing with holiday stress is to have a plan. 

This can be somewhat trickier than it sounds. Especially because the time before the holidays is generally packed with running around, buying gifts, doing that extra work before you leave for vacation, and all the other things you have to do, getting a plan together for how to stay healthy and sober can be a challenge.  

But we assure you: it is worth it. Because addiction affects the whole family and those around you, staying sober should be the number one goal. So take the time to make a plan about managing not just addiction and relapse, but stress as well. 

And what should that plan consist of? 

Everything you normally do, but tailored to the unique stresses of the holidays. 

What Are Some Tips For Managing Stress Over The Holidays? 

As mentioned above, you should have a plan for how to manage stress and cravings, and that plan should likely be an adaptation of what you normally do. 

For example, if you attend recovery meetings and you’re traveling, you might not be able to attend your regular meeting. But there are meetings almost everywhere in the English speaking world as well as online meetings. We suggest you research what meetings are available in the area you’re going to, as well as some options for online, ahead of time. There can be a temptation to stop going, but just go. Get there one way or another. And have a plan for how you’ll do so.

This can be translated to all of the things that you do to manage stress and relapse. If you exercise (and unless you have health issues that prevent you from doing so you should— exercise is a perfect natural stress reliever) you should make a plan to run or walk outside or see if any gyms where you’ll be traveling accept travelers on a short-term basis. You can also do exercises that don’t require a gym, like pushups and situps (there are many tutorials for bodyweight workouts on the internet that need minimal or no equipment).

If you like to volunteer (and this can be a great way to feel good about yourself, as well as feel useful) perhaps your usual location needs more help around the holidays or an area you’re traveling might take single-time volunteers (soup kitchens are great for this). This can also be a great time to start a new tradition. If you’re lonely around the holidays, volunteering can be an excellent way to meet new healthy people that doesn’t involve drinking and drugs. 

You’ll have to decide for yourself whether keeping busy or staying inside and cozy will be best for you, but try to translate whatever you do already to work for the holidays as well. And stick to it. 

How To Get Help For Addiction And Stress Disorders

And as always, if you have an addiction that you just can’t break, please give us a call. We can be reached at (508) 680-0115. We’re looking forward to helping you with all aspects of getting sober forever, including dealing with holiday stress. Give us a call today to get on the road to recovery and learn new, healthy ways to manage those things that make you want to drink and take drugs. 

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