The holidays can be a hectic, stressful time. Yes, the holidays are supposed to be about family and spending time together. However, this in itself can be stressful or overwhelming for some.

Maybe the holidays make you feel lonely or isolated. You see friends and those around you spending time with loved ones and perhaps you feel a little left out. Or, maybe spending time with family causes you stress. If you are battling addiction, time spent with those you care about can be tense.

The holidays bring on stress and anxiety for many different reasons. People often feel financial pressure during the holidays. The obligation to buy gifts for everyone can be overwhelming. Sometimes, you might even find yourself taking on debt as a result.

If you are struggling with substance abuse or are in recovery, you may be working hard to re-establish financial stability for a variety of reasons. Feeling the pressure of buying gifts around the holidays can be very stressful if you aren’t in a position to do so.

You are also more likely to be exposed to social situations that might involve substances. The holidays are known for parties. You may have a party for work, a party with friends, family parties, and the list goes on. If you are in recovery, these social settings can sometimes lead to discomfort or temptation.

Setting Boundaries

Boundary setting is something you may hear a lot about and discuss throughout treatment. Setting boundaries, especially with those you care about, can be tough sometimes. The truth is, setting boundaries can actually improve relationships. Often, when you are struggling with substance abuse, the relationships you have may become strained or tense. Boundary setting in recovery helps both parties heal and avoid any codependent or triggering behavior.

It is also important to set boundaries for yourself when it comes to navigating the holidays and the many parties and events they can bring. This does not mean you have to avoid these activities. Setting boundaries to ensure you are comfortable and avoid anything that could lead to temptation or relapse is key.

A few tips for setting boundaries in these settings include:

  • Leave early
  • Have an exit plan
  • Connect with your sponsor before and after the event
  • Bring your own non-alcoholic beverages

In addition to setting boundaries for yourself when it comes to attending events, you need to set boundaries for yourself when it comes to your own energy and time. Often, with the best of intentions, family members, coworkers, and friends may place high demands this time of year.

It is crucial to remember the importance of self-care in recovery. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or unable to meet certain expectations, take a moment to explore your own needs. There is nothing wrong with putting yourself and your needs first. Sometimes, this might involve speaking up about how you are feeling, or creating a little distance between yourself and those who are applying the pressure.

Maintaining Balance

Recovery is all about finding your footing without drugs and alcohol. You are focused on building your new life and are likely choosing wisely when it comes to your environments and the people you spend time with. The holidays have a way of disrupting normal routines.

For example, you may have some time off from work for the holidays. This can be an excellent time to rest and recharge. Time off also provides you with extra downtime, which, especially in early recovery, can be tricky to navigate. It is best to stay consistent with your normal routine as best as you can during the holidays.

Wake up and begin your day with some quiet time or meditation. Even if you have the day or week off from work, you still want to start your day off right. Make it a point to continue making it meetings, even if it means attending at a different time, or leaving a gathering a little early.

Relaxation Techniques

When you do find yourself feeling overwhelmed and stressed out during the holidays, take some time to relax. A few activities to help promote relaxation could include:

  • Taking a warm bath
  • Listening to calming music
  • Diffusing essential oils
  • Engaging in breathing exercises
  • Practicing Meditation
  • Practicing Yoga

Maintaining the boundaries and balance you have created in recovery is critical. In order to avoid relapse, you must prioritize yourself and your sobriety during the holidays. It can be easy to let your guard down or give in to the pressures of others during this time. Extra stress and high expectations can lead to the temptation to seek substances if you aren’t prepared with solid coping strategies. Make the effort to relax when you need to. Your success in recovery is your number one priority.

The holidays are a time for family, great food, and gathering. While this sounds joyous, it can also be stressful. The holidays have a way of applying added pressure. This can include financial pressure, pressure to spend your time with certain people, and pressure to expend energy on things and activities that may not serve you well. It is important to set healthy boundaries and work to maintain balance as you enjoy the holidays. At Enlightened Solutions, we help clients develop routines and habits that promote relaxation. This allows them to be better prepared to cope with stress and adversity in recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, call Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE.