In early recovery, how can I stop stress during the holidays?

Sheila Dunnells
Addiction Medicine
Anyone in early recovery from substance abuse will undoubtedly feel anxious as the season of partying begins in early December and ends with New Year's Eve. First of all, remember your 12 Step Slogans. "Let Go and Let God"; "How Important Is it?"; "One Day at a Time." Whatever you are feeling in new sobriety about the holidays should diminish during the coming year and this season in 2012 may be completely different. That's why one stays in the day.

This year, you may have to let go of parties where substances are served. It may be too much of a trigger for you. If you are a young adult, parties may include alcohol and other substances. If you are older, it may be alcohol alone. Either way, think about declining the invitation if it will put you back in touch with your friends from your "using" days.

Don't rush. Get things done in a timely manner. Don't shop for presents or food at the last minute. Get your presents wrapped in advance. If you are giving someone a bike, or a toy that needs to be put together, have someone equipped to assemble it do it for you.

If you are single, New Years can signal a very lonely time if you buy into the idea that you should be celebrating with someone wonderful. It is one day out of the year. Actually, it is a few hours in the evening. Make plans to be with people who care about you, go to a meeting, attend a party hosted by a 12 Step member. Know how you will spend the evening. Don't leave it to chance. Also, don't hook up with someone just to stuff your feelings. Messy endings can cause lapses.

If you are married, and going through a tough time with your spouse, don't put your feelings under a microscope. Feelings are not facts--they change.

In early recovery, the suggestion is not to make any dramatic changes in your life for a year. New relationships, just to fill the holiday void, are a recipe for a slip.

And, remember the serenity prayer.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.