As we head into the Holiday season and the New Year, being mindful is challenged by the social and financial pressures of a system that has become far too commercial. Many people become attached not only to things but to expectations of things from others.
It’s an especially hard time for addicts who are in recovery. And let’s face it, we may have at least one in our family or circle of friends suffering from addiction. So whether you are the recovering addict or the family member of one, here are some practical ways to avoid holiday relapse this season and continuing into the new year.
Nothing is quite as challenging as facing family issues in the holiday season, including people who might trigger emotions from your past or might even tempt you with vices you are trying to avoid. It’s okay to skip social events if you think you might be triggered. If you are out of town and away from your network or sponsor, find groups in the town you are visiting, go if you need to, and find a connection and lifeline there. If you have a family member in recovery, it is okay to warn them about people who might attend certain events, and triggers that might come up like the presence of alcohol.
Being mindful means considering the feelings of others, and there are a number of ways you can handle family and still remain peaceful, centered, and spiritually active.
Travel can not only induce stress and be a part of family challenges, but it can leave those in recovery vulnerable. Being apart from a recovery group and in a strange town can feel overwhelming, and when sponsors and other support personnel are also away celebrating the holiday, the time can be lonely and discouraging. Planning accordingly is essential. Find groups meeting in the area where you are going, and plan to attend meetings. Connect with leaders and sponsors ahead of time, and let them know you are coming and might need help. Find a qualified substance abuse counselor in the area where you will be traveling, introduce yourself, and make an appointment ahead of time.
Make a plan and a schedule to remain spiritually active while you are away from home. Take a few minutes every day for reflection, relaxation and meditation.
One of the biggest stresses no matter who you are is money, and at the end of the year when you are being asked for donations, wrapping up work deadlines, planning for taxes, and more that stress can really add up. When added to shopping, travel expenses, and other financial pressures, remaining focused and sober becomes even more challenging.
Make a plan and a budget and stick to it. Treat money like a tool, and be mindful of overspending, especially if you struggle with shopping addiction or gambling issues. Don’t be so strict with your budget that it creates stress that drives you toward substance abuse. A primary piece of all debt reduction strategy is that you allow yourself a few luxuries, so give yourself the freedom to splurge at least a little this holiday season. When heading into the New Year, you can reevaluate your expenses and look for ways to save.
Recovery is hard, and being mindful of your own issues and those of others is essential this holiday season. Keep family, travel, and financial struggles in mind as you keep spiritually and physically fit this holiday season.
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