The holiday season can be equally as stressful as it is joyful for many people. Even with the goal of spending quality time with family at the forefront of the holidays, it can be easy to get caught up in the chaos of shopping, wrapping presents, baking and cooking, and attending different events. There is certainly an element of stress when it comes to the holidays, but for most, the joy and cheer they experience makes all of that stress worth it. Others, however, struggle with the family dynamics during the holidays, making it less enjoyable and even triggering instead.
How Can The Holidays Affect Someone in Recovery?
Individuals who are in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction have worked hard to maintain that recovery. It is not always as easy as it seems, to not drink or use drugs, but those who are no longer engaging in those behaviors demonstrate healing and growth. However, that does not mean that they cannot be affected by external things, such as the holidays and all the stress that comes with them.
The holidays can affect someone in recovery in many ways. For example, attending get togethers with others may sound exciting, but for someone in recovery, it can be triggering. That is because most parties, especially around the holidays, have alcohol present. Seeing alcohol and others enjoying it can be triggering in ways that make someone want to use again.
The holidays can also dredge up old regrets, feelings of loneliness, and heartbreak — all of which can fester to the point where it starts seeming like a good idea to use again. Family dynamics can make the holidays more challenging for someone in recovery, especially considering that families tend to spend more time with each other at this time of year. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to navigate these potentially triggering occurrences and family dynamics during the holidays.
5 Ideas for Navigating Family Dynamics During the Holidays
It is always a good idea to be prepared, especially when you are in recovery and are going to be spending time with your family. Just because they are your family does not mean that you get along perfectly with all of them. In fact, you may have a few family members who you prefer not to spend time with, but are forced to at the holidays. Whatever the case may be, being prepared to effectively navigate family dynamics during the holidays is critical to your recovery.
1. Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries is absolutely vital to managing the family dynamics you experience during the holidays. Remember, you do not set boundaries as a means of harming others, rather protecting yourself. For example, if you find yourself cornered by an uncle of yours who never stops talking, set the boundary for yourself that you will excuse yourself from the conversation before it becomes too overwhelming.
2. Review Your Expectations
People tend to set their expectations pretty high during the holiday season, especially when it comes to celebrations. Review your expectations of what your interactions with your family members may be like. You can lower your expectations or set zero expectations in an effort to present in the moment without waiting for something to happen.
3. Have a Back-Up Plan
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we still find ourselves overwhelmed by our surroundings. If you are in recovery, it is imperative to know that if you feel stressed, triggered, or overwhelmed, you are free to leave the event as you choose. Preserving your recovery is a major priority, therefore, prepare to say goodbye warmly and be on your way if you are stressed.
4. Be Ready to Go With the Flow
The holidays are extremely fluid, meaning that one second one thing might be occurring and then the next, something else is happening. Getting to be too rigid in your ways can make attempting to go with the flow feel like frustrating work. Relax your mind, focus on the here and now, and allow transitions to wash over you so as to not trigger your desire to use again.
5. Know That You Can Only Control Yourself
The only things you are able to control are your thoughts and your behaviors, as you cannot control what others say or do. Simply accepting this can make the pressure associated with navigating family dynamics at the holidays lessen, allowing for you to let loved ones present themselves how they may. Accepting that you cannot control others does not mean that you have to engage with them. Remember, if you are feeling triggered, you can always leave or excuse yourself from that conversation.
No matter if you are 10 weeks or 10 years into your recovery, know that anything can possibly trigger you. Prepare yourself to handle family dynamics this holidays season by utilizing these (and other) ideas so that you can enjoy yourself while still preserving your own health.
Drug and Alcohol Rehab in Los Angeles
If you need help ending a substance use disorder or simply bolstering your recovery, reach out to Clear Recovery Center right now. Our team of dedicated professionals is prepared to guide you as you make your way towards recovery.
Call us at (877) 799-1985 to speak with one of our team members right now. You can also learn more about us and our programming by visiting our website.