The holidays can be trying times for people fighting addiction, especially for alcohol or drugs. First, there’s alcohol everywhere, and everyone wants to share a drink by the fire while bragging about their kids, house(s), or jobs.
Second, if you manage to get away from the alcohol, you still have to be prepared for the family dinners, where aunts, uncles, and cousins will grill you with questions, depending on how much they know about your situation.
So how does one stay on the right path during the holidays?
Keep yourself busy
You probably have a few hobbies to keep you busy at home, but if you’re spending the holidays with family and/or friends, you may not be able to do those activities. As a result, you may feel a bit empty and out of place, which can put you in a dark place.
Avoid this grim scenario by finding things to do. Since it’s the holidays, there are probably a lot of chores that need your attention around the house, and even if you’re a guest at a friend’s house, they’ll appreciate the help.
It also helps to put yourself in the service of others; it will make the holidays less dark, especially if you’re alone. Serve a meal at a homeless shelter or spend time with an elderly person (it can be a loved one or a neighbour). This is a great opportunity to connect with others, expand your support circle, and learn how to practise gratitude.
Have a local support group
It’s important to keep in mind that your family may not be able to offer the support you need. Of course, this doesn’t mean they don’t love and appreciate you; they may just not know how to respond to your needs.
So, the best way to keep on track is to make sure you don’t skip meetings or counselling appointments. Also, work with your local group as much as you can while at home. And don’t shy away from talking with your sponsor, even if it’s just a few minutes on the phone.
If you travel for holidays, look for local support groups you could join. For instance, if your family lives in New Orleans, do a quick search for Drug Rehab New Orleans or AA New Orleans, and you’ll be able to find a local group or organisation that may be of help. In many areas, you’ll find marathon meetings during the holidays; recovery is difficult for everyone, not just you.
Be nice to yourself
The holiday season doesn’t have to be a time of challenges and darkness. If you know you won’t feel happy celebrating with the family, why not stay home and take time for yourself? You can still connect with your loved ones online and enjoy a couple of days of pampering and daily naps (if that’s what you need).
Also, try getting a massage, make sure you eat right and do a bit of exercise to keep yourself moving. Furthermore, scientific studies show that meditation also has a positive impact on people in recovery or going through depressive states.
Even if you spend the holidays with family or friends, make sure to carve time for yourself and focus on doing the activities that make you feel good. If there are too many people around and it’s difficult to find a place where you can meditate in peace, use a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and listen to your favourite music or audiobooks.
The holidays don’t last forever, and you’ll soon be back to your regular routine with the people who can provide proper support. So don’t let yourself get lost in the noise, and enjoy the time spent with your loved ones.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.