For some, holidays are a time of joy, spirit, family and friends. However, for many it can be very overwhelming and stressful. When struggling with recovery, the holidays can add on an entire layer of stress and pressure. When a client comes into my office for therapy, one of the first areas I try to focus on is identifying how they are “recharging” their own batteries. Many of us are guilty of putting other’s needs before our own and therefore our self-care practices go out the window.
It is so easy to overextend ourselves this time of year. Parties, celebrations, mile long to-do lists, overworking, shopping, decorating are all part of the rat race of December. Reaching for a drink or a substance is extremely tempting in an attempt to self-medicate the anxiety, grief and depression that is so common during this time of year. Below are a few of the approaches I implement with my clients to help them through these weeks ahead.
Put On Your Oxygen Mask First
Anyone who has flown on a plane before can recall the spiel the flight attendant gives us about putting on our own oxygen mask first before helping the person next to us. This applies to life; put on your own symbolic “oxygen mask” first. Otherwise, you aren’t able to help those you care about and are not giving your amazing full potential! Meditate, read, take a bubble bath, watch Dumb and Dumber, walk, have coffee with a friend…whatever fills your cup, do it! Aiming for seven to eight hours of sleep and eating healthy/eliminating sugars are all priorities right now. Unplug for at least a few hours each day-no emails, no social media, no phone.
We are often so caught up in our day to day jobs and chores that we forget to unleash our inner nine year old. Do you remember what it was like to go sledding or tubing? How about coloring or painting? Try it, and thank me later.
Bodies in Motion
Newton’s First Law of Motion: A body in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. I am not saying go run a marathon but just aim to get some Vitamin D (which has been proven to improve mood) each day. A simple walk around the block is all it takes. Find whatever physical activity you enjoy, put on your baller music and GO.
Find Your Life Line
You don’t have to tackle this alone. Identify your support system and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Utilize the online recovery programs, addiction support groups online and AA meetings. You may need to double up on meetings right now, and that’s okay.