*This is a guest blog post written by the lovely Teresa of Mental Health For Seniors.
The holidays are a time of great joy and goodwill. Homes delightfully ablaze with holiday lights, holiday music dominating the airwaves, the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers, and peaceful evenings by our beautifully lit trees. It seems like there’s everything in the world to be happy about, but for some, especially those who are seniors in addiction recovery, the holidays can be a time of increased anxiety and even depression.
Holiday times can come with a lot of temptations for those working a recovery plan. Booze-fueled parties, the financial pressures of gift buying, tempting old habits, and increased stress can all lead to relapse. But it doesn’t have to.
Let’s look at five common seasonal temptations, and discuss strategies for overcoming them so you can actually enjoy this beautiful time of year again.
Temptation #1 Dealing With Relationship Fallout
Addiction can have devastating consequences on our relationships, and if you’re alienated from a loved one during the holiday season, it may lead to some lonely and sad moments.
Now is the perfect time of year to reach out and repair a damaged relationship, be it with a friend, your grown child or a partner. It may not come in time to have a holiday dinner together, as these things can take time, but do make an effort. Start by opening up the lines of communication and making a sincere apology. If your loved one seems open to mending fences, take an active role in setting up the time to spend together and keeping the relationship going forward.
Temptation #2 The Season’s Financial Squeeze
Holiday time equals spending money, and spending money equals extra stress.
Solution: The holiday season doesn’t have to be about breaking the bank. It will be essential to remember a few things: 1) Don’t use credit to buy, always pay cash; 2) avoid the high cost of traditional holiday cards with an email; 3) great gifts don’t have to be expensive, you can make an extra batch of cookies, and it will mean just as much; and 4) don’t spend more money than you have, commit to a budget.
Temptation #3 Too Many Holiday Parties
If your calendar is filling up with holiday party invitations, you may be starting to feel anxious about how you’ll be able to avoid all the relapse temptations that come along with these types of festive parties.
Solution: Now is the time to call on your trusty support group. Ask a friend or loved one from your circle of trust to attend parties with you; that way you’ll have a shoulder to lean on if things get tough. And always have an exit plan for a party that has too many temptations.
Temptation #4 The Stress Of The Season
Busy schedules filled with increased demands are all vying for our time. Or maybe it’s just the emotions that come with the season that has you down.
Solution: One of the best things you can do for yourself during a stressful time is getting to a meeting. By sitting down with peers and discussing the season stressors that everyone is feeling, you’ll feel more part of a network. Understanding you’re not alone, and seeing that live in action, can be very comforting.
Temptation #5 Old Habits Die Hard
You might associate great holiday times with favorite old haunts or friends that pose a risk to your sobriety, and if you’re lonely, these might seem like enticing things to revisit.
Solution: If you have time on your hands, and you’re tempted to turn backward, it’s time to give the ultimate gift, your time to a worthy organization. Think about something you’re most passionate about, say an animal rescue mission or speaking to young teens about addiction, and volunteer.
You can make the holiday season about peace and goodwill toward men again. Use this period to celebrate your great success. Take time to actively acknowledge the great control you’ve had managing your sobriety. Then snuggle up by the fire, crank up the holiday tunes, get out your holiday “to do” list, and get excited about reclaiming your life!