The holidays can be a stressful time for people in recovery. There tends to be more temptation and triggers around this time, as well as high expectations for buying gifts, hosting dinners and seeing extended family. And if this is one of your first holidays sober, the stress is especially high. COVID-19 is shaking things up for families across the world, making it even more difficult to stay positive and hopeful for the season.
More Americans Struggling with Mental Health & Substance Abuse Due to COVID
According to the CDC, 40% of American adults report struggling with mental health or substance abuse due to the pandemic, including anxiety symptoms, depression symptoms and trauma-related disorder symptoms. 13% of U.S. adults also admitted to starting or increasing their substance abuse.
It’s clear that the pandemic is taking a toll on the mental and emotional well-being of our population. While this is not an excuse to indulge, it does paint a portrait as to how our nation is being affected. So for those who are already vulnerable, it’s even more important that resources and support are readily available.
Tips for Navigating the 2020 Holiday Season Sober
2020 has been a difficult year for pretty much everyone. Most of us never thought we’d live through a pandemic, and now here we are, trying to navigate things the best we can. Below is more information about getting through the 2020 holiday season after completing outpatient drug rehab in Scottsdale, AZ.
Protect Your Recovery First
People may have varying opinions about quarantining, mask wearing and social distancing, but your recovery is your business. You admitted your problem and put in the hard work and you don’t want to risk it over one season. Be prepared to make choices for yourself, even if they aren’t popular.
In order to make the best choices, it’s important to practice good self-care. By eating well, getting enough rest at night and exercising daily, you’ll be motivated to make the right decisions for yourself and your recovery.
Stay Connected to Your Support Circle
You may not be looking forward to having a virtual dinner with your extended family or having your grandparents stay for the holiday weekend, but try not to put that much focus on them. Instead, stay connected to those who have supported your drug or alcohol recovery, including members from your 12-step groups.
In fact, you may benefit from attending extra meetings during the holidays so that you can keep talking through your feelings. Also, your fellow 12-step members can give you advice on how to handle holiday challenges like gift giving and judgy family members. At the very least, it’s nice to know you’re not alone!
Don’t Say ‘Yes’ to Everything
Sometimes, you just have to say no. There are too many commitments during the holidays in the first place, and now we’re dealing with a pandemic. Don’t be afraid to decline some invites if they’re not right for you. If you feel guilty, you can always offer something different such as chatting with a loved one on FaceTime or sending a gift through Amazon.
Remember, you get to make decisions for yourself. When you say no to certain things, you can say yes to others, even if it’s just sitting at home and doing a puzzle with your significant other. The events and parties you attend should be healthy and enjoyable for you.
Create an Escape Plan
Even if you’re celebrating the holidays virtually, you’ll still want to have an escape plan that you’re comfortable following. If your cousins decide to play a drinking game or your siblings start fighting, you’ll want to leave before things get uncomfortable. Rather than being flustered about what to do, you can follow your trusted exit strategy.
Help Others this Season
Giving back is one of the greatest feelings in the world. And what a better time to do this than during the holidays. Plenty of nonprofit organizations and charities need help over the holidays with food, clothing and other donations. This year, things are especially tough as roughly 8% or 12.6 million people are unemployed.
Even with the pandemic, there are still many ways to volunteer safely. Contact local charities in your area and find out how you can help. Some opportunities that may be available include coordinating fundraising events, providing mental health resources, assisting youth and delivering supplies.
Always Assess the Risks
When you attend an event, assess the risks and if they’re worth it. Some risks are so great, they can challenge your sobriety. For example, going to a keg party isn’t a smart thing to do in early recovery – or probably at any point in your recovery.
The same is true with coronavirus. Protect your health by choosing safe activities and practicing social distancing when possible. We still don’t know much about the long-term risks of the virus, so we recommend following all CDC guidelines.
Remember the Reason for the Season
Regardless of what you believe in, the holidays are a time for giving and gratitude. It’s easy to get caught up in extravagant gifts, lavish parties, pleasing others, etc., but this is not what the holidays are about. Take some time each day to reflect. Even when we’re at our lowest, there is still plenty to be thankful for.
If you feel that your family is not supportive or respectful of your decisions, then you may find it best to get away for a few days. You can rent a cabin, stay with a friend or take a mini getaway. While some people feel best when they’re with their family, others need some space during challenging times.
Acceptance Recovery Center is Here For You
Acceptance Recovery Center in Scottsdale, AZ never stops working for our clients and their families. If you need extra support during the holiday season, you can enter our treatment center and participate in one of our programs. We have various levels of care that make it easy to choose the treatment you need to live your best life. Contact us today if you or a loved one needs our support. We are here for you and remain open during the holiday season.