For many people in addiction recovery, commercials on the television, advertisements in magazines, cards in stores, trees in friends’ living rooms and even people wishing Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year can be enough to ignite painful memories and overwhelming emotions. Then after that usually come intense cravings for alcohol and drugs to cope.
But this year can be completely different! It can be a time of hope if not outright joy if you take the necessary steps to deal positively with your addiction during the holidays.
According to Beverly D. Flaxington, a Psychology Today columnist and author of “Self Talk for A Calmer You” there are four powerful aspects of taking control of your mental and emotional health. These four tips are especially helpful for those who struggle with substance abuse as well as their family members that may have been affected by the addict.
These 4 aspects are:
- Having a toolkit of helpful practices
- Consistently engaging in positive self-talk
- Remembering the “level of predictability” about the holidays
- Writing down where you want to be after the holidays
Having a toolkit of helpful practices ready before the holidays even arrive is very important to maintain sobriety.
These helpful practices can include techniques to manage stress like taking three deep breaths or going for a walk if cravings appear. It can be as simple as learning to leave a situation that feels uncomfortable or very tense. Every person’s toolkit is going to be different depending on what your triggers may be. The important thing is to know what situations or people make you upset and prone to relapse and then come up with tools that will help you stop having knee-jerk reactions.
Consistently engaging in positive self-talk could be one of the main practices that turn your holidays from a nightmare into a pleasant experience.
Positive thinking can increase life span, lower depression and stress, strengthen immunity and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, just to name a few. A lot of times, addicts especially can fall into very negative patterns where they mentally beat up on themselves about every little thing, even things that can’t be changed. The healthier (and ultimately happier) way to handle a difficult day or recovering from a mistake is to say to yourself, “Today is a new day. I am not the same person I was yesterday – I am wiser and stronger! I am confident in myself and I believe that I can get through this without relapsing.” That is just one small example of the many variations of positivity you can give yourself every day, all day. Pick a few words or sentences that have a powerful, calming effect on you, and have them memorized or written down somewhere you can easily reach them. Then use them!
The holidays are relatively predicable, and it is this predictability that you should use to your advantage.
You know when each holiday is coming; they’re on the same day every year. Have your positive self-talk and toolkit ready weeks in advance! It is this type of preparation that will ease anxiety beforehand and make the season as a whole better for everyone. Choosing to do something different could be the difference between relapse and continued addiction recovery!
And last but not least, always keep in mind where and who you want to be after the holidays are over.
Nothing lasts forever and this season is no different. Throughout the coming months, keep remembering how you want to feel about yourself and your actions come February. Do you want to hate yourself for relapsing or be able to wake up with a smile knowing that you were able to get through some very tough months with your sobriety intact? Who do you want to be and what do you want your life to look like?
Drug and alcohol treatment during the holidays can be a powerful way to start your new year with a solid plan of addiction recovery and a new life. Our experienced clinical team can set you up on a personalized treatment plan that focuses on recovery, healing and long-term sobriety and happiness.