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Recovery and the Holidays

When you’re in recovery, holidays can pose an extra challenge to your sobriety. But anticipating these potential challenges and reviewing the tools at your disposal can help you better maintain sobriety during the holiday season. Your Life Iowa is here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. even on holidays.

Here are a few challenges individuals may face this holiday season related to recovery:

  1. Spending the holidays alone.

Holidays are traditionally often spent with family or friends. For individuals in recovery, sometimes these relationships have been damaged or severed. Or perhaps family members and friends have died or moved away. This can trigger feelings of sadness, shame or anger. You may not be able to stop feeling lonely, but you can take an active role in combatting it. Reach out to others in a similar situation, host your own holiday gathering, get out of the house or volunteer at a local charity to help redirect these feelings and build connections.

  1. Stressful holiday expectations.

Holidays can be stressful if you feel pressure to host, cook, or otherwise be the leader for your family or friends. One of the key findings of a Holiday Stress Report by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research* is that “holiday stress has a particular impact on women, who take charge of many of the holiday celebrations, particularly the tasks related to preparing meals and decorating the home. Women are more likely than men to report an increase of stress during the holiday season. In addition, they have a harder time relaxing during the holidays and are more likely to fall into bad habits to manage their stress.”

Stress is a major relapse trigger. To combat this risk, enlist a team to help you during the holiday season. There’s no reason you should have to do all the work by yourself. Be direct in asking for support from family and friends. Plan and prepare what you can ahead of time for holiday dinners. Delegate responsibilities and consider options like pre-ordered meals to reduce stress and obligations.

For support on how to help a loved one who is struggling with alcohol, drugs, gambling, suicidal thoughts or mental health, check out our Family and Friends page.

  1. Financial concerns.

Gift-giving expectations can cause stress and create feelings of shame or regret if you aren’t able to budget for these extra expenses during the holidays. Reframe the situation and consider how you can give the gift of your time, energy or talents to your loved ones. Show up early to help with the cooking or volunteer to rake leaves. The greatest “gift” you can give your loved ones this holiday season is to continue to do well and maintain your sobriety.

Your Life Iowa is your everyday life support. We can help you when you feel tempted or are struggling with substance use, alcohol, mental health, thoughts of suicide or problem gambling. If you are concerned about a loved one during the holiday season, we can help you start a conversation about getting help. All Your Life Iowa services are free and available every day of the year.

We wish you a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.