Stress-free Holidays Tips

The holidays bring up a lot of emotions. We can’t avoid feelings such as depression, anxiety, or stress. The expectations from family, friends, co-workers, and ourselves are often overwhelming. Throughout the holiday season, we give ourselves excuses to relax or put aside our healthy habits in favor of unhealthy habits.

The struggle to remain sober or substance-free increases as we interact with familiar faces in familiar places. Parties and gatherings become temptations. We feel we “deserve” to drink or use substances to decrease our feelings of depression, anxiety, or stress. The urge to let down our guard and be a part of the crowd also exists. Negative habits become second-nature if we allow them to control our behavior.

Staying on track during the holidays takes commitment and support. Often, we have either finished treatment, never started treatment, or let our treatment lapse. Therapy is essential to our health and well-being. Aftercare gives us support during a season filled with emotion and temptation.


The holidays are welcomed by many because they symbolize happy feelings. People look forward to family and friends gathering together to celebrate. Media and society set unrealistic expectations for the holiday season. Before Halloween, we see the Christmas decorations on shelves. Conclusion: there is pressure to create mass marketing to buy gifts, spend time with everyone, and have a perfect house, table, or party. We can’t expect ourselves to achieve the standards the media, marketing outlets, and society set for the holidays. People are flawed, we have our temptations, breakdowns, and despite our imperfections, we have people who love us unconditionally.

We place expectations on ourselves, such as:

  • Being happy. When we force ourselves to be happy, we exhaust ourselves. Family and friends understand the emotions associated with the holidays. Spend some time with those close to you and discuss how you feel about the parties and traditions.
  • Expecting perfection. No matter what we do, we can’t control everything. We need to acknowledge we are doing the best we can. No one will remember if the table isn’t set correctly or the food served at an exact time. Expecting perfection compounds feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. 
  • Enjoying our time with everyone. Our family and friends mean well, but there are times when we need a break. Some family members trigger negative emotions. 

Life is stressful enough before we add unrealistic holiday expectations. Relax, focus on realistic goals, and maintain healthy habits.

Healthy Habits

Healthy habits begin when we recognize the need for change. A positive way to accomplish the desired change is to start therapy before encountering difficulty in our lives. Reaching out to a therapist commits us to improve our lifestyle of facing mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or stress. 

Therapy provides a healthy outlet for our emotions. We learn how to set plans in advance, create safe spaces, avoid unrealistic goals, and not fall back on negative behaviors. For example, to alleviate depression, anxiety, or stress, we seek alcohol or substances to numb our feelings. Our therapist will work with us to set practical coping mechanisms in place. Instead of falling back on negative behaviors, we will have the tools to reinforce positive behaviors. A few causes of negative emotions are:

  • The stress of buying presents. Racking up credit card debt or overspending won’t bring us joy. The feelings of guilt, depression, stress, and anxiety will increase when we realize we can’t pay our bills. Don’t buy gifts you can’t afford to give. 
  • Create coupon books with fun, free activities.
  • Offer to help a friend or family member with a task.
  • Be creative. We can draw, write poems, stories, cook, or teach a loved one new skills.
  • Spend time with loved ones. Sometimes the best present is our time.


Therapy appointments are an oasis. Our daily routine is all-consuming, often leading us to neglect our mental well-being. We need to find time for ourselves. Scheduling and going to therapy appointments can seem self-centered. When we focus on improving ourselves or center our well-being, we open ourselves up to self-love. Without a self-centered focus, we can’t connect to our mind, body, or spirit healthily. Our connection to our inner self provides the support we need to weather the holidays. Beginning therapy before the holidays creates a strong foundation for healthy habits. 

When the holiday season starts, we can forget to schedule appointments or delay an appointment because of our busy calendar. An active holiday schedule doesn’t need to interfere with continued therapy sessions. If we can’t find the time to go to our therapist’s office, ask if they can come to our home. In-home therapy sessions maintain our therapy progress, but in-home therapy allows our therapist to see our family’s dynamics. Personalized therapy sessions based on family dynamics supports our well-being.


We experience pressure during the holiday season due to unrealistic expectations. The media, marketing, social interactions, and pressure to conform to unrealistic expectations can trigger unhealthy emotions. We seek ways to escape the pressure or the overwhelming feelings of depression, anxiety, or stress. Some people rely on alcohol or substances to numb their feelings. Alcohol or substances can numb depression, anxiety, or stress, but they will also increase those feelings. Excessive spending, alcohol, or substance use leads us down the trail of negative emotions. When we begin therapy before the holiday season begins, we establish a positive foundation and healthy habits. Even if the holidays are in full swing, it’s not too late to start therapy. Self-care is about centering on our needs, not the expectation of other people. Achieve Concierge offers individuals both with in-office and in-home treatment. We focus on creating a personalized treatment plan. For more information, call us at (858) 221-0344.

Family Roles in Addiction

Family Roles in Addiction

Families play an essential part in the process of addiction recovery. Each family member’s role creates a unique pattern that affects the whole family unit. Recognizing the roles that family members play is integral in helping an individual face their addiction.

Ideally, in treatment, the family would be involved, but there may be a reluctance for some members to participate. Not every treatment center includes the family in the patient’s therapy treatment. Treating the person struggling with addictive behaviors as a whole person helps them redefine who they are and find their new place in their family.

There are six family roles in regards to addiction. Family members may take on more than one role, depending on their coping skills and what they can offer. It is essential to recognize the positions adopted by individual family members in order to better understand the dynamics that exist in the family.

The Addict

The addict is the core of a family’s attention. Discussions, actions, decisions, and energy are centered around helping the addict receive care from other family members. The role of the addict forces others to fill a void left by the addict’s alcohol or substance dependence.

Family members adopt roles they believe will smooth out the imbalance in their unit. As each family member takes on their role, the addict will display forms of emotions such as guilt, shame, and stress. In some cases, the addict will drink or use substances more because of the feelings mentioned.

The Hero

The hero wants to help the family look good to those on the outside. They want to appear as if everything is perfectly fine in their family, so they act positively when they are with others. They smooth over any action or behavior the addict displayed while in public. The act of being calm and positive in public may ease family members’ minds, thinking the hero is doing well. However, the hero can feel a degree of pain and isolation.

The Jester

There is usually a member of a family who uses humor to deflect feelings. They tell jokes, play pranks, and do other things to alleviate tense or negative situations. Jesters can appear to be superficial, but they use their jokes as a means to protect them from feelings of hurt, shame, and embarrassment. They usually have a hard time understanding why their family member is addicted and understanding how they can effectively help.

The Scapegoat

The line between the jester and the scapegoat may blur in some families. The scapegoat uses humor and constructs situations meant to draw attention away from the addict. The acts of the scapegoat are often dramatic. They want solutions to problems. Their need to fix situations and interactions comes from not being able to fix addiction.

The unruly behaviors caused by the scapegoat are fixable unlike the addict’s alcohol or substance dependence. The family can focus their attention on finding solutions to the scapegoat’s problems rather than dealing with addiction issues, where it can seem like there are no solutions.

The Caretaker

The caretaker puts all of their energy into making things okay. They, like the hero, want to present a unified, happy family to the public, despite the turmoil going on at home. They make excuses for the addict and find ways to protect the addict from the harm they are causing to themselves.

In many ways, the caretaker is an accomplice. The caretaker swoops in when the addict is in trouble or might suffer from their use. They believe they must help, but their help actually ends up harming the addict. The effort to protect and rescue the addict is harmful because it distorts the addict’s reality of addiction.

If the addict is consistently being protected from their choice to use or drink, they never feel the effect their behavior has on their family. The caretaker feels loyalty and love for the addict. However, their feelings of fear regarding what may happen to the addict are misplaced. The caretaker needs to free themselves from any responsibility they may feel towards the addict.

The Family

Addiction can scar a family. The effects of addition leave pain, shame, guilt, fear, and anger. The roles family members play in order to maintain a sense of normalcy ultimately hurt everyone and can cause the addict to dive deeper into their addiction. As a result of the roles of addiction, there is a need to involve family members in addiction treatment therapy sessions.

The family as a unit can suffer without these codependent roles. Without the assumed roles, family members may not know how to act around the addict before, during, and after treatment. Comprehensive treatment includes the family. When undergoing treatment, the addict is learning about who they are and their role in their family. They gain self-confidence, tools to cope with stress, boredom, anxiety, depression, and other feelings.

By addressing the family as a whole, therapy can help the family cope, push negative feelings away, and focus the proper amount of attention on the addict. Family therapy may reveal the foundation of each family member’s role. We all have a part to play in our families.

Addressing the roles we play is vital to working toward our own recovery or the recovery of a family member. Asking questions, facing realities, and admitting we need help are strengths. With this strength, we find who we are and who we will become.

Addiction affects everyone in the family. Facing a loved one’s addiction isn’t easy. The first impulse of the family, when faced with addiction, is to ignore it or hide it. Neither reaction is a long-term solution to their loved one’s alcohol or substance dependence. Taking on roles diminishes the family’s ability to help the addict. Instead, the roles adopted by the family hinder treatment, increase the use of alcohol or substances, and can delay the family from seeking help. Every family member needs to understand their role and how they can help not only themselves, but the addict, as well. Recovery is not a process that is achieved alone. Family members are essential in helping an addict succeed, once they complete treatment. Including family members in individual therapy sessions built around addressing their roles and feelings towards the addict strengthens the recovery process. To learn how you can be involved in supporting your loved one, contact Achieve Concierge by calling today at (858) 221-0344.