Even if you’re a spontaneous person who relies on the universe to guide you through life, one thing holistic rehab teaches is that it’s important to have a plan when you’re in recovery from substance abuse or working to balance your mental health. Sit down and consider every inevitability so, if necessary, you can give yourself an out, a parachute, and a way to stay safe, sane, and sober, especially during the holidays.
Have an Exit Plan
Drop-ins are common on holidays—it’s a time of year when it’s implied that everyone is welcome. A difficult family member may suddenly decide to make the hours-long trip from two states away to surprise everyone, but that isn’t a great surprise for you. Have a contingency plan in place should an unhealthy person make an appearance in your space. You can’t impact what other people do, but you can change your own circumstances within minutes.
Prioritize your health and wellness so you feel brave enough to take any of the following steps:
- Leave immediately. If it makes you feel better, let your host know ahead of time that you will depart should certain people appear at the celebration.
- Change locations. Have a backup plan to attend someone else’s holiday gathering if your first choice goes south.
- Don’t go at all. Should there be any chance that someone triggering will be at the celebration you would most like to attend, save yourself the trouble and go elsewhere.
The holidays are littered with temptation for anyone in recovery from substance abuse. Alcohol is plentiful and drugs could be too. Ideally, you’ve found a new group of people during your recovery who have shown you ways to live a rich life without ingesting any substances. There is no reason not to carry these newfound healthy habits into the holidays.
- Avoid places with alcohol or drugs. You know exactly where to find the substances that you’re in recovery from, so don’t be tempted to go there on the holidays thinking the feeling of a special occasion will limit the temptation.
- Treat every day as the most important day. Honor each day of your substance-free life as its own holiday. Be good to your body and avoid putting the wrong things in it, even if it’s a holiday.
Avoid Emotional Triggers
Mental health challenges are plentiful during the winter holidays. If you know that people who trigger your anxiety, depression, or PTSD will be at a holiday gathering—whether family or friends—make alternate plans so you don’t have to spend time with these individuals.
Recovery is about self-care and self-protection, and you are the best judge of what will threaten your stability. Avoid emotional triggers by:
- Form a duo. Make plans with just one person who makes you happy and supports your recovery.
- Do your research. Ask the host of any gathering for an exact guest list so you know who might be in your orbit—and stay home if there’s someone you’d prefer to avoid.
- Create new traditions. Experiencing a holiday just the way it’s always been is triggering for someone in recovery, especially if certain negative memories are associated with this time of year. Create new traditions that feel fresh, clean, and full of promise.
You may think that you shouldn’t have to bow out of having a good time just because someone triggering is at a party or dinner or gathering, but you’re not losing or being weak by staying away. You’re taking care of yourself and preventing pain and discomfort, and that’s a win.
Don’t Fly Solo
Many people reveal in holistic rehab that this time of year is especially triggering for them, and they find it difficult to make it through without drugs or alcohol. You may be tempted to avoid all holiday gatherings entirely so you’re not tempted to relapse, but being by yourself during this highly charged time is actually more dangerous than being with others.
Left to your own defenses, you could keep yourself busy and distracted, but the holiday season is long and it is charged with emotion and memories. If you’re alone the whole time, there will be plenty of moments when you’ll feel pulled to the substances that once soothed you and numbed your thoughts.
Find a holiday buddy or buddies and plan a small celebration together—it doesn’t even have to be holiday themed if you’re with others who support your recovery. Just don’t try to muscle through these big holidays all on your own.
If you or a loved one needs help over the holidays, contact Beachside Rehab in Fort Pierce, Florida, a respected facility that offers inpatient and outpatient detox, rehab, and holistic recovery. Call to 866-349-1770 to speak with a trained admissions counselor.