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How to Overcome Holiday Stress

Is it truly the most wonderful time of the year? Not for everyone.

The holiday season provides an additional level of stress for everyone, but for those in recovery, it comes with its own unique set of challenges. Being prepared with practical tips can keep you moving forward in your recovery journey. And who knows – with a renewed mindset, you could end up enjoying the holidays so much more than you ever expected.

  1. Make time for the things – and people – that make you happy. The holidays can be full of social visits and sometimes, that means seeing people we don’t always enjoy spending time with, especially those who make recovery more difficult. Be sure to make time for the family and friends who not only support your recovery, but also make you feel happy and loved.
  2. Remember: Less can be more. ‘Tis the season of making others happy and putting your needs on the back burner. It happens! This is the time of year when we focus so much on making others happy – with cards, gifts, visits, traditions – that we tend to forget to make ourselves happy, too. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and say “no” more often.
  3. Get some sun. The dreary, dark days can certainly take their toll on you. You may even suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Ease these symptoms simply by sitting near a window or getting outside when it’s sunny. You could even talk to your doctor about phototherapy, which is a treatment using a box that emits full-spectrum light.
  4. Move past your cravings. Did you know that a craving only lasts for a few short minutes? The next time you’re hit with one, no matter what it’s for, give yourself a change of scenery. Move to a different room or step outside, change the topic of conversation or just take some deep breaths. You’ll be surprised how quickly the art of distraction can curb your craving.
  5. Plan ahead. Where are you going and who will be there? Always know the answer to those two questions. If you aren’t comfortable with the location or people, politely decline and make other plans. You want to be surrounded by family and friends who share the journey of your recovery – not make it harder. With the right support system, you’ll be able to create your own fun.

Recovery isn’t always jolly, but following these tips may open up new ways to enjoy the holidays.

Article by Dr. Deni Carise, Chief Scientific Officer at Recovery Centers of America 

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