The holidays are an exciting time each year full of family, friends, and celebration. As fun as this season can be, it can also be a source of great stress – something that can trigger relapse in a person who is newly sobriety. In fact, of all the holidays, Christmas and New Years are the most common times for recovery setbacks. This year, take proactive steps to combat holiday stress before it becomes overwhelming. Read on to learn our top tips for beating stress this season.
Set a Budget
Finances are one of the number one causes of stress each December. Gift-giving takes center stage not only for family, but also for friends and co-workers. You may even find yourself buying gifts for teachers, hairdressers, and other professionals who serve you and your family throughout the year. As the bills start to pile up, overspending can make you feel like you’re in over your head – a dangerous stage for self-medication and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Instead of going into debt this December, set a strict budget and stick to it. Cut back on the number of gifts you buy, or find ways of lowering your costs, such as by baking cookies instead of giving an expensive gift. If possible, avoid the temptation to overspend by turning off holiday advertising and find free or low-cost ways of enjoying the holidays with your friends and family.
Nothing induces stress like scrambling at the last minute. Whether it’s tuning up the car before traveling, shopping for gifts, or preparing a menu, the earlier you begin preparing, the less likely you are to feel overwhelmed later on. Take time to plan your party outfits and wrap your gifts ahead of time. Not only will it relieve pressure to do it all at once, but it will also free up time to take care of the unexpected.
Create a Support System
Sometimes, it is other people who become a primary source of stress. Perhaps it is the person who steals your parking spot or contentious family members who cause your blood pressure to rise. In other cases, it may be old friends who undermine your sobriety by inviting you to gatherings where there will be alcohol or other substances. Whatever the case, it is important to lean on a support system of people who will help you cope with holiday stress and temptations in a healthy way. Fill up your schedule with sober friends, or spend more time with your recovery program. If you still have time to spare, try spending some time volunteering, engaging in healthy, holistic and stress-busting activities like meditation and yoga, or even picking up a few more hours at work.
Whether you have a history of overeating or struggled with substance abuse in the past, nothing can sway you faster than the holidays. With food and alcohol freely available, you may find it a challenge to remain sober this time of year. Don’t take on holiday stress alone. If you find it challenging to remain sober during the holidays, contact us here at RecoveryNOW to discuss ways you can combat stress this season.