The holidays can be a period of emotional highs and lows. Anxiety, loneliness, happiness, and sadness are common feelings, sometimes experienced in startling succession. The bad news is the holiday blues can trigger a relapse for people recovering from alcoholism and other drug addiction. The good news is the blues can be remedied by planning ahead this holiday season.
Why do the blues hit during the holiday season? Doing too much or too little and spending time away from loved ones during the holiday season can lead to sadness. Many people in recovery associate the holiday season with memories of overindulgence, perhaps of big benders that resulted in relationship troubles or personal losses.
When recollecting past holidays, some people may experience feelings of melancholy, sadness, and grief. These feelings are temporary, unlike clinical depression, which can be more severe and can last months or years. Anyone experiencing major symptoms of depression, such as persistent sadness, anxiety, guilt or helplessness; changes in sleep patterns; and a reduction in energy and libido, should seek help from a mental health professional.
Whether you’re in recovery or not, it’s important to develop a plan to prevent the holiday blues – one that will confront unpleasant memories before they threaten your experience during the holidays. Your plan should include improved self-care, enhanced support from others, and healthy ways to celebrate. Here are a few suggestions to achieve a happy, sober holiday season:
Holidays may also be a time to evaluate your spirituality and find a personal way to draw support from the spirit of the season. Return the holidays to a spiritual base, and stress the power of unselfish giving.
Recovery is serious work, but it is also important to have fun. Laugh a little and a little more. Start seeing the humor in those things that annoy you. Take from the holiday season what is important for you and leave the rest.