Remember when you were a kid and the holidays seemed magical? That’s probably not the case anymore. You might blame your addiction for putting a damper on your holiday spirit, but the reality is that this time of the year sets many people up for disappointment and possibly even depression.
What Makes the Holidays Stressful
The holidays aren’t “the most wonderful time of the year” for everyone. Between end-of-the-year deadlines, poor eating habits, family dysfunction and loss and colder, shorter days in some parts of the country, people have a lot going against them.
Some of the most common risk factors for holiday depression are:
- Having unrealistic expectations
- Attempting to do too much
- Comparing your “inside” struggles to what you see on the “outside” of people
- Not taking care of yourself
- Slacking off from your routine
- Spending too much time on social media
- Struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Tips for Getting into the Holiday Spirit
If you already have a bad attitude toward the holidays, don’t beat yourself up for it. Remember that this time of the year is stressful for many people, and some of what you’re feeling is entirely normal.
But, that is not an excuse to wallow in your self-pity. Use this time to feel grateful for what you do have. Sure, life isn’t perfect, but look how far you’ve come from last year or two years ago. You’re here, you’re alive and you’re sober.
Here are some ideas for getting into the holiday spirit in early recovery.
- Donate Your Time: Probably one of the best things to do is volunteer your time. Wrap gifts for others. Help out at a homeless shelter. Collect canned foods for the local food drive. Giving back is what the holidays are all about!\
- Get Moving: Sitting around feeling sorry for yourself only feeds negative thinking. Get moving – preferably outdoors. Walk the mall. Go hiking. Plan a ski trip.
- See the Nutcracker: Or any other holiday play. Plenty of high schools or local organizations put on plays with singing and dancing. Plus, the tickets are affordable and easy to get.
- Decorate Your Home: Put up a tree. String lights outdoors. Listen to holiday music. Decorating requires time and energy, which is a good distraction, and sets a more positive tone in the home.
- Stay Off Facebook: Social media is fine in small doses, but avoid overdoing it. Seeing posts of everyone’s “blessed/amazing/fabulous/bestever” holidays can make you feel inadequate and can even trigger the urge to drink.
- Spend Time with Loved Ones: Now is the time to put the differences between you and your loved ones aside. As long as they are not hurting your recovery, try to spend more time with your family over the holiday season.
This holiday season, The River Source recommends sticking to your continuing care plan and reaching out for extra support from loved ones, AA members or your counselor. If you know someone who is in need of help, please call us to learn more.