Holidays are Stressful for Everyone and Especially for Those in Recovery Plan…for Success with Strategies to Safeguard Against Relapse

Holidays are “The season to be jolly.” The reality is that an overwhelming number of people don’t feel jolly during the holidays. Why do so many people feel empty and stressed out when the holiday season is supposed to be filled with family, festivities, and fun? 

It turns out that the biggest source of holiday unhappiness comes from the expectations that people will feel jolly and joyful. Old family habits, dynamics, and expectations often add to holiday stress. Additionally, there is pressure to buy gifts that people may not be able to afford. When society places such high expectations on the holidays, the reality often falls short, resulting in feelings of dissatisfaction and failure. 

For people in recovery, the stress of the holidays becomes a minefield for triggers. This makes it even more difficult to successfully work a recovery program without succumbing to old coping mechanisms to avoid painful feelings which often results in relapse.

Expectations and family commitments, in addition to unhealthy eating, financial strain, travel complications, and busy schedules all add to and compounds the stress. Time commitments can make it hard to attend meetings and benefit from your support system, making you even more vulnerable to relapse. Family traditions may be organized around drugs or alcohol, which can trigger old emotions and traumas, also increasing the risk of relapse.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” ― Benjamin Franklin

Knowing that the holidays may threaten your recovery, preparation is the key to successfully navigating the challenges of the season. Thoughtful preparation will safeguard your sobriety, which is the greatest gift you could give to yourself and your loved ones. 

For those in recovery who want to avoid relapse and stay sober during the holidays, here are some ways you can prepare.

  • Create strategies that support your sobriety- plan to attend 12 step meetings before and after a holiday event. Bring a sober friend with you to your holiday parties for added support. Make sure you have a planned way out so you can leave when you need to and give yourself permission to limit the time you spend in stressful situations.  
  • Manage your expectations by talking with your sponsor or therapist about your emotions that are triggered around the holidays. Remember that success in recovery comes one day at a time, which is true in your everyday life and especially so around the holidays. 
  • Be of service to others and let yourself feel the joy of helping others.
  • Avoid situations that will likely pose a relapse risk. If a holiday party is focused on drinking or drug use, protect your sobriety by not attending.
  • Practice self-care by taking time to nurture yourself and your wellbeing. Make sure you eat right, get enough sleep, and stay physically active. 

If you find that you need the support of a treatment facility, consider the holiday season as the best time of year to start your recovery journey and avoid undue stress. Starting your substance abuse treatment during the holidays could be the best gift you could give to yourself and to your family and friends.

Peace and serenity can be a part of your recovery story. You can begin the journey of healing from addiction by making the decision to seek help now. Healing Springs Ranch, a treatment center in Tioga, Texas, offers the opportunity to find sobriety in a beautiful lakefront environment on 50 serene acres. For more information about treatment options, please call today: