It’s that time of year again. It started with Halloween and continue on through New Year’s Eve. It’s a season of gratitude, love and giving. But for many alcoholics and addicts, the holiday season can also bring on the blues. Often times, feelings of loneliness, happiness and sadness ride out on a roller coaster of highs and lows. Then there’s the pressure and expectation of family and friends. It’s no wonder some people may relapse during this time.
It’s also no surprise that some people feel less energetic and more moody or depressed in the fall and winter seasons. As the days grow shorter and there’s less sunlight, seasonal affective disorder is not an uncommon occurrence. Compounded with the fact that you aren’t drinking and using to check out, and it could look very much like an unmerry time.
But it doesn’t have to all be glum. These five steps can help you beat the holiday blues and rise to any occasion.
1. Take Care of Yourself
Remember who you are—an alcoholic or an addict. So take care of yourself. This can mean taking a break from your family when you need to and going to meetings. If prayer and meditation are a part of your routine, don’t skip out on it. And don’t feel pressured to take on more than you can honestly handle in any situation.
2. Go to Meetings
Make going to meetings a part of your schedule during the holidays. It’s always great to hear how other people are coping during this time. The stories will make you laugh and they’ll make you cry. But in the end, you’ll leave the meeting recharged and ready-to-go. Attending meetings also helps you combat those feelings of loneliness. In some states, they have meetings around the clock for several days at a time during the holidays. Just find out what’s going on in your area and stay connected.
3. Don’t Overdo It
This is the season of overindulgence and celebration but it’s still important to take care of your body. Too many caffeinated drinks and sweet treats can bring on dramatic highs and low that leave you feeling less energized and cranky. Spending more money than you can honestly afford is a setup for a different kind of hangover. And don’t take on too many commitments. You don’t have to be a superhero to everyone. Slow and easy is the rule of the day. As always, balance is key.
4. Recreate the Holidays
If your holidays typically involved drinking or using, here’s your chance to redefine it. Plan to have activities that are new and exciting for your guests during your next party. Create new routines with your children that highlight the day like visiting a museum or a sacred site. Get rid of old things by doing a giveaway to a community center or shelter. Or link up with an organization that feeds the homeless during Thanksgiving or Christmas.
5. Remember to Be Grateful
This is a good time of year to commit to doing a gratitude list. We all need to be reminded of what we’re grateful for. Consider all of the things you’ve gained since you have been clean and sober. Alcohol and drugs are no longer your master. Today, you get to be present for your family and friends. This year you may be trusted with cooking the turkey or bringing over a much-needed ingredient for that special dish. Or maybe people are just glad to see you. Take time to be grateful this holiday season by remembering all of the things you have to be thankful for.