The holidays are a perfect storm of stressors and triggers – a never-ending cascade of struggles for those in recovery, from stress at home due to family or relationships, financial stress due to obligations, and stress from pressure to celebrate the season with substances or alcohol. During this time, it can feel like a relapse is inevitable and that nothing can be done to stop it. This kind of negative self-talk, like all negative self-talk, is false. You can stay sober during the holiday season, even with all the stress, by using coping strategies such as the ones outlined in this blog.
Listen to your Support System
Oftentimes, we want to think of ourselves as the best judges of our moods and thoughts. However, our friends, family, and support networks can also inform us if we act against our best interests. Those who know you well can alert you to changes in your mood or concerns they may have based on changes in your behavior, such as self-isolating, engaging in self-destructive behaviors, or other factors they know will feed into your need to use. Speak to your support network, let them know how you feel, and ask them if they can help you stay sober by discussing behaviors they find to be concerning to your continued sobriety.
Make Time for Yourself
Often, we see the holidays as a time when we exist to do the whims of others – whether that be picking up gifts for them, spending time with them on specific occasions, or making meals for them, among other acts. While some get joy from these acts, others feel suffocated by them. No matter how you think, it’s crucial to make time for yourself, even if only for a few moments a day. Find something you enjoy, whether a video game, a book, a hobby such as knitting or drawing, or anything else that brings you joy. Making moments of happiness for yourself is critical when you feel stressed to prevent yourself from feeling that you need to flee to unhealthy coping behaviors, such as substance abuse or self-harm.
If you feel stressed, make sure that you’re prepared for any urges that may come your way. If you’re invited to a bar and know you won’t be able to resist, turn down the offer, no matter how tempting. If there are areas you know will be traumatic for you or cause you to have the urge to use again, avoid them, even if you feel you’re missing out. When it comes to trigger management under stress, you must understand that you are under a lot of pressure from many sides, both internal and external, and that it’s ok to feel stressed. What matters is how you manage that stress and what you do with that energy.
Use a Hotline
If you’re in a crisis or feel you need to talk to someone who will hear you and understand you, there are hotlines you can call, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) hotline. The number, 1-800-662-4357, is available year-round, 24/7. The calls are confidential and free, and they can help you during a time of crisis.
Do you Need Help?
If you’re struggling with addiction, please reach out for help. At SOBA New Jersey, we customize our drug and alcohol addiction treatments for each of our clients. We can evaluate your needs and help you come up with a treatment plan that fits your recovery goals.
Get in touch with our team today at 866-952-3994 to learn more about our treatment options.