Don’t let the holidays trigger old habits

Don’t let the holidays trigger old habits

The holiday season is a joy-filled time of the year, but for many, it’s not all glad tidings and cheer. The hustle and bustle of the season tacks on additional stress and strain. For those struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, the holidays can be particularly triggering.

People may drink or use substances for a variety of reasons. Some may drink alcoholic beverages with family and friends to celebrate holiday festivities. Others may use substances to cope with difficult emotions that surface during the winter months like grief, anxiety and depression. Around the holidays, there’s a temptation around every corner. This can be tough to navigate for those in recovery.

Planning for stressful periods is important to prevent relapse and support ongoing recovery. A supplemental relapse prevention plan addresses recovery needs in seasons of added stress and strain, like the holidays.

Make a list each morning of the tasks and events for the day, rank the relapse risk for each item and identify strategies to cope with what’s ahead. It can be helpful to share this plan with supportive family members or friends for additional accountability and feedback.

To balance out the seasonal busyness, prioritize or even amplify self-care. Make time for healthy relaxation each day by practicing meditation, taking a bath or going for a brisk walk. Don’t neglect basic physical needs; the body requires proper nutrition, exercise and restorative rest to combat added stress, especially during the emotional and demanding holiday season.

Finally, avoid setting unrealistic expectations for yourself by putting too much on your plate. Tackle large projects by setting short-term goals and be sure to acknowledge your progress along the way.

With sufficient planning and healthy support, recovery is feasible and achievable – even during the holidays.

Lauren Evelsizer is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor for Addiction Services at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. If you or someone you know could benefit from treatment for alcohol or substance abuse, you can schedule a professional  assessment by calling 309.268.5993.

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Lauren Evelsizer
Lauren Evelsizer