For many people, the holiday season is a time of celebration, relaxation, and quality time spent with family and friends. For others, the holiday season can drum up uncomfortable feelings and triggers. The holidays can also place us in sensitive environments around people that we may not want to speak to for the sake of our own health and well-being.
If you’re struggling with your mental health or are working through substance abuse issues, the holiday season can be a particularly troubling and difficult time. Fortunately, with proper planning, they don’t have to be. There are steps we can take and things we can keep in mind to prevent us from encountering harmful triggers and upsetting environments.
The Pressure to Be Joyful
According to a study conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64 percent of people surveyed found that the holiday season exacerbated their mental illness. There is both a cultural and societal pressure to be joyous, happy, and cheerful among large groups of people this time of year. For some, this can be a daunting task. People struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder may find themselves moving towards depression. Others may have anxiety about coming into contact with family that they do not have healthy relationships with, which can be uncomfortable.
No matter which camp you fall into, it is important to remember that your apprehension, anxiety, and feelings are valid. Family relationships are often extremely complicated. While it may be the case that in some cultures, cordialness and civility during the holidays are obligatory; you are not required to put yourself in situations that cause you stress. Planning can greatly reduce the discomfort that comes with being in large groups. If you know a person who has caused you harm in the past will be present at a certain event, you can avoid that event in favor of another. How other people interpret your absence is secondary to your own mental health.
Financial Burdens and Obligations
The holiday season can be particularly stressful for people that are struggling to make ends meet. Between travel, gifts, lodging, and taking time off of work, the financial pressure to be present at holiday events can worsen anxiety caused by a lack of funds. If you find that you have a packed calendar but you are worried about money, it is important to remember that you are well within your rights to excuse yourself from certain gatherings and events for the sake of your mental health.
Loneliness and Loss During the Holidays
Some people struggle with the burden of the pressure that comes with being present around family and large groups, and others struggle with feelings of loneliness and loss during the holidays. It is important to try and remember that with every holiday season comes the opportunity to make new memories. Coping with loss and loneliness in a healthy way can be incredibly difficult, especially during the holiday season, but it is not impossible.
Making new, happy memories is a fundamental part of the grieving process. If you can, take some time during the holiday break and treat yourself with kindness and care. Remember to keep your healthy habits and coping mechanisms during the holiday season.
Sobriety and the Holiday Season
A litany of factors come into play that can make recovery particularly difficult during the holidays. Changes in routine, holiday parties, and potentially uncomfortable gatherings are just a few of the circumstances that may trigger you. Despite all this, it is important to remember that relapse is not an inevitability or something to be expected during the holidays. There are many things you can do to keep yourself healthy and well.
If you are traveling for the holidays to meet with family, it is important to plan ahead. Keeping yourself away from potentially triggering places like bars and house parties is one potential tactic. It is also important to know how to avoid alcohol if it is offered by someone who doesn’t know you are in recovery. You could say “No not for me thanks, I have a big day planned tomorrow.” Sometimes it helps to have a non-alcoholic beverage in hand, so when someone offers you a drink you can give them a little tip of the glass. “Already got one, thanks!”
Conversations with strangers and family about sobriety can be difficult, but that’s okay! Your journey to recovery is your journey, and you don’t have to elaborate or explain if you do not feel compelled to.
There are many reasons why the holiday season can be particularly difficult for those who struggle with mental and emotional health issues as well as substance abuse issues. Whether it’s finances or family relationships, you can face the holiday season knowing that you have the strength and will to make decisions that are healthy for you.
For many, the holiday season can be a time of stress and discomfort. Being around large groups of people with potentially complicated relationships can be triggering. There is societal and cultural pressure to be joyous and cheerful during the holidays, but often for those that struggle with mental health and substance abuse disorders, this can be difficult. If you are feeling anxious about traveling or depressed and lonely during the holidays, we at Achieve Concierge are here to help you. Our team of professionals and experts is here to help our members with comprehensive plans for health and recovery that are tailored to their individual needs. We offer a variety of services to our members. Some of these are same-day services for mental health crises, telehealth services for those concerned about COVID-19, and many others. If you feel you need to speak with a professional, do not hesitate. Contact us today at +1 (619) 393-5871.