For some, the holidays are a joyous time of year, but for others, getting through the holidays can be a stressful and painful experience.
Many organizations such as the Mayo Clinic and the VA offer tips on how to make the holidays less stressful.
Below is a list of tips to help you avoid holiday stress:
- Accept family and friends for who they are
- Take a walk or exercise if things get too tough and you just need a moment to yourself
- Express yourself and don’t be afraid to speak up in a respectful way
- Don’t be afraid to say no so you don’t end up feeling overwhelmed
- Make a budget, and stick to it
Holidays can also be a difficult time of year for those battling addiction or who are in recovery programs.
Dr. Brian Couey, Clinical Director of Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation San Diego, recently gave some advice on how to stay sober during the holidays.
“One way is to kind of change the culture of the holiday tradition and make it less focused on alcohol and keeping things simple and trying to avoid holiday stress is really important as well,” said Dr. Couey.
Dr. Couey says one of the ways to do this is to shift the focus more toward food, interaction and celebration rather than alcoholic beverages.
For people in recovery, it can be hard to navigate holiday parties or family gatherings. Dr. Couey said it’s good to have a plan going in on ways to avoid saying no to alcohol.
Dr. Couey said people “Also want to be kind of coached on feeling confident about saying ‘no thank you’ when offered a drink, or having a refusal skill. A pre-planned way to decline alcohol that feels comfortable for them and helps them to feel as though they can decline without feeling anxious about that.”
Finally, for people in 12-step programs, Dr. Couey says support and accountability is essential. Having a conversation with a sober mentor or a sponsor and having someone to call if things get uncomfortable is key.
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