Supporting Loved One’s Recovering During the Holidays
The holidays are a time of celebration and joy, but it is true that people in recovery may feel daunted by the stress and pressure that can be present during this season. It can sometimes be awkward to balance the celebratory atmosphere of the holidays, which sometimes lean towards excess, with the discipline and intentionality needed to maintain sobriety.
In order to minimize the anxiety your loved one in recovery may feel during the holiday celebrations, consider implementing these strategies to actively support and help maintain the recovery of your family member or friend.
How can I support recovery during the holidays?
Whether it’s keeping the party dry or attending an office celebration as a wingman, you can be supportive and helpful by being attentive to the needs of your loved one.
Ask how you can help
Instead of trying to guess how you can help, approach your loved one directly and ask them. Maybe they simply need to know that they have someone to talk with during this time. Perhaps they’ll have direct requests, like asking you to help them Christmas shop in order to make the day fun and less stressful.
By asking them what they need and being open to their requests, even if they don’t immediately need you to do anything, the knowledge that they have someone to turn to can relieve a lot of stress.
Consider a dry party
Everyone’s situation is different, but for some people in recovery simply being around alcohol can be difficult and tempting. In order to be supportive, ask your loved one if not providing alcohol during parties would be most helpful. Or, if you happen to be at someone else’s party, refrain from drinking in their presence, or even at all. Knowing that another person at the event isn’t drinking may keep them from feeling isolated or left out.
Be considerate of the guest list
Being around alcohol isn’t the only relapse trigger that those in recovery face during the holiday season; they may also encounter people who either remind them of their life before treatment, or who cause them to feel stress and subsequently want to turn to self medicating in some way. Lending a supportive ear and offering to act as a distraction or buffer (or even avoiding inviting that person to any events at all) can be tremendously helpful.
Help them keep their routine
One of the most vital aspects of success in recovery is the maintenance of one’s routine. As we all know, the holidays, what with time off work and vacations, offer very little in the way of regular schedules and routines. However, you can offer a lot of support by helping your friend or family member maintain their routine to the best of your abilities.
This might mean leaving a party early so they have energy for their therapy session the next morning. Perhaps it’s committing to a daily walk with them. No matter what it is, finding ways to encourage and maintain their routine can make a huge difference during the vacation days of the Christmas season.
Be open to new traditions
Certain holiday traditions might have to change in order to be considerate of your loved one – but this is a unique opportunity to create new, wholesome traditions that honor and respect their newfound sobriety. Taking the time to consider which traditions are no longer beneficial, or have too much triggering emotional aspects, and revamping them ushers in a new era of beautiful, healthy traditions that will last for years to come.
Keeping the dialogue open
Most importantly, encourage and participate in an open dialogue with your loved one in recovery. Remind them that any feelings of stress about the holiday season are totally normal and, more importantly, manageable. Direct them to meetings or encourage them to call their counselor if you feel they need more support or insight than you can offer.
And comfort them with the truth that while recovery is hard and certain times are more stressful than others, with the right mindset they won’t just “make it through” the holidays, they’ll be able to enter in and enjoy them in a whole new way.
If you or your loved one need any additional support during the holiday season, consider reaching out to our team at Pyramid Healthcare. Call our offices to speak with a therapist anytime at 888-694-9996.
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