The Christmas commercial bombardment starts way too early for most people, as November encourages us to write our Xmas shopping lists and start planning our family get togethers.
For a person in early recovery this can be overshadowed with fear and dread. Especially if it is to be the first Christmas time of recuperation. Others can be tempted to flirt with relapse, just for this one ‘special’ occasion. But why?
The run up to Christmas is loaded with expectations, pressures, stress, must haves, must do's, and the age old adage “it's not Christmas unless…….”
Many people in recovery associate this time of year with memories of overindulgence, ‘the good old times’, that results in grieving that ‘loss’ and what can lead to anxiety, depression, lack of self worth, anger or whatever.
Perhaps the memories are of big benders that resulted in relationship or family problems or personal loss.
These are all triggers, warnings, that need to be put into the true context of what we want from our recovery.
Triggers such as;
o Family pressures
o Financial stress
o Parties that include alcohol and drugs
o Colder or unpleasant weather like rain, snow, wind, etc.
o Feelings of anxiety, depression, or loneliness.
Financial stress for example is a real concern as we feel obliged to buy and give gifts, as tradition dictates the need to get your children everything they ask for, or find the perfect gift for your husband or wife, even if you can barely afford it. Christmas is supposed to be full of giving, love, laughter, family and celebration; more pressure, more triggers.
However, attending to our inner life and spiritual fitness takes priority. Imagine devoting a day to your own spiritual nourishment in order to truly be present with those you love, and to enjoy every connection, giving our loved ones the gift that they truly want:
the balanced and loving person that we are.
Recovery can be serious work, but it can also be fun, when you laugh a little and then a little more. Start seeing the humor in those things that annoy you. Take from the holiday season what is important for you and leave the rest. Set yourself free.
Suggestions that may help
1: Be sure to get enough rest. – Let’s face it. When you’re tired, you’re more apt to make snap judgments that may turn out to be wrong, say something you wish you hadn’t, or find yourself entertaining thoughts of giving into the temptation. While being well rested can’t guarantee that these situations don't occur, it’s far less likely.
2: Be selective about what invitations you accept. You can expect to receive numerous invitations to parties and get-togethers during the festive period. Avoid situations that will put you under peer pressures to relapse.
3: What’s in your glass only matters to you. – When everyone around you is having a good time, drinking cocktails or champagne or beer, do you really think it matters what you have in your glass? Chances are it only matters to you. The man or woman next to you is only interested in getting his or her own drink. So, if you ask for sparkling water or tonic with lime, it’s your business and no one else’s.
4: Have backup plans ready. – It’s amazing how a simple tip can make all the difference. If you’re prepared with a reasonable response when you’re at a party and getting ready to leave and someone asks you to stay, it’s not only less stressful, it’s also essential. You’ve got an easy out, no one’s feelings are hurt.
Here’s how it works. You always have something that needs to be done. Your response could be that you have to run an errand for your spouse or mother or you have an appointment you can’t miss. Maybe you need to pick up your children or get to the bank before it closes or buy supplies for work. What you say isn’t important. What is important is that you prepare what you’ll say in advance and stick to it. Don’t allow someone to convince you to stay just a little longer. Your time is your own. You don’t owe it to anyone else
5: Go late and leave early. – Here’s another tip that may work for you. It’s simple, really. Just go as late as you can to the party without being irresponsible and leave well before the party’s end. What you’re doing, in effect, is putting in an appearance. That’s all that matters to most hosts anyway. You’ve been invited. You show up, talk to a few folks, and leave. End of story.
6: Take time to enrich your spirit. – Material considerations often take center stage in people’s minds when it comes to Christmas and the New Year. There always seems to be a furious burst of activity around getting ready for the day, being involved on the day, and cleaning up after the day. What often gets left out completely is attention to the spiritual aspect of the holiday.
It is also worth bearing in mind that after the Christmas and New Year excitement there comes the anticlimax and January can herald new challenges. Individuals in and out of recovery will feel lonely. So the question arises, how does one deal with the aftermath of the loneliness of the holidays?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that is difficult to detect which leaves it commonly unseen or misdiagnosed. An undiagnosed battle with any form of depression can lead to self-medicating with alcohol or drugs to help ease the feelings.
With this in mind Soul Recovery Andalusia leaves the first few months of the year open for short notice private retreats for more information contact us through the web site or by email