As you know, navigating through the holidays can be a very stressful time, especially for those juggling mental health conditions, substance abuse recovery, work, family, and holiday gatherings. It can be overwhelming.
As Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year are supposed to bring about feelings of joy, warmth, connection, and comfort – but sometimes, the holidays sweep us up into a frenzy of stress, anxiety, and even depression.
While its over-commercialization seemingly commands you to feel a certain way, why do we sometimes think the complete opposite? You’re not alone.
The holiday’s commercialization tends to forget that not everybody is celebrating them the same way, with the same resources, and under the same circumstances.
While the messaging means well, the pressure to provide for your family or to be present at family gatherings could be enough to drive you in the opposite direction.
Don’t worry; just breathe and know that there are many ways to navigate the holidays while maintaining your recovery and health. Here’s how!
Manage your expectations
No matter how many years we experience the holiday season, the pressures surrounding this time of year can create unreasonable expectations.
To meet the expectations of others, you may reach outside of your comfort zone. However, when you place undue stress on yourself, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
It’s essential to manage your expectations at the beginning of the holiday season, much like how you set goals and expectations early in your recovery. You’ll want to reference some of the techniques you used early on to help you effectively weather the holiday season.
Remind yourself of what’s important, including your health, recovery, and loved ones. The holidays are not about buying the most impressive gift or outdoing yourself from last year – it’s about creating and sharing connections with those you love.
Let’s say you want to buy gifts. In this case, you may want to budget yourself and work within your means. Many people spend the first two or three months of the New Year recovering from the holiday season financially. Be a step ahead and avoid financial catch-up by curbing your wildest expectations.
Most people appreciate your company over receiving gifts.
Create a soft plan
Now you may be thinking, what’s a soft plan? Well, a soft plan is just that, a plan that is tentative and flexible. One of the most effective ways to manage you expect to create a plan.
Spread errands out instead of waiting until the last minute. Complete each task at a slow and controlled pace; if you plan with other family members, delegate tasks so one person isn’t doing all the work and running all the errands.
It’s okay to ask for help. The tasks don’t need to be great undertakings. For example, you can ask your loved ones to pick up an order from a store or re-establish the agreed-upon time and date for the event; remember, many people are happy to help.
Incorporating everybody who can help will not only bring relief to your stress, but it’ll allow everyone to feel needed and take a sense of ownership and responsibility for the event.
Somewhere in your planning, make time for yourself. Part of the reason stress and anxiety spiral out of control is that the holidays move fast. They add other layers of responsibility to your day.
Remember to treat yourself with breaks, allow yourself time to eat, watch movies, relax by listening to music or taking a bath. These moments are like pressure release valves. Use them to alleviate the tension.
Remember, don’t take on more than you can handle. Be present in the places and events you are genuinely excited to be present at and politely decline if you don’t want to attend or if it causes you stress.
Mind Your Mental Health
Stress, anxiety, and depression seem to be more abundant during the holidays.
These feelings can even increase with the pressures of navigating the holidays and worrying about the long winter that follows the season. These stressors can create isolation, negative thoughts, and behavior, leading to self-medicating with harmful substances.
The holidays not only create difficult and triggering situations but can also develop setbacks in your recovery.
You’ll want to remember all the warning signs and keep up the practices that help you become aware and proactive about managing your triggers.
Also, it’s imperative to keep your lines of communication open during the holiday season. Stay in contact with loved ones, health professionals, and people from your support group.
At True, we offer refined Telehealth services that will connect you with others and help you have a meaningful and engaging experience throughout the holidays and beyond. Remember, we’re here for you.
True provides many essential resources for people struggling with mental health and addiction, tailored to address unique needs and goals. We offer a space where you can work with trained, caring professionals to overcome obstacles and achieve potential in every aspect of life. Call us at (844) 744-TRUE(8783).