Regardless of your familial situation, facing the holidays can be daunting; especially for survivors and people in recovery…I should know! I’ve cringed at the looming specter of faking holiday cheer, once again trying to keep the peace when the voices inside of me were anything but peaceful. It did not matter whether I was with my own family or someone else’s; I was triggered all the same.
But there is HOPE!! We do not have to continue to suffer through the insufferable today. If I am not first for myself, then I have nothing to give to others. Here’s a look at the top 7 tips I have for surviving the holidays and maintaining your serenity:
1. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
I am done carrying that clawing creature in my heart that causes me to feel isolated when surrounded by others. If I go to a party, a family gathering, or a situation where I know I am going to be triggered I make sure to bring a trusted support person with me. I have the right to be supported, or to not be present. If it is not okay for me to bring someone with me, I have the right to choose not to come.
There are resources in most countries for hotlines for survivors and people in recovery to reach out for 24-hour support. Google: 24 hour Hotline (the issue you have & your location or country). If you do not find one, please feel free to contact me via my Ask Me page.
2. EXIT PLAN
The number of times I have felt trapped in a place, because I did not take my own transportation or devise an exit strategy prior to arrival are too numerous to count. I’ve since learned that I can bestow myself with peace of mind by knowing ahead of time how I can leave when I need to. This forethought often lessens my hypersensitivity to being triggered, having a relapse or acting out.
If you decide against taking your own transport, I encourage you to note down local numbers for taxis & to be sure to have cash on hand. You have the right to leave a place where you feel unsafe or are tempted to relapse.
3. RECOVERY FIRST
A holiday from work or school doesn’t mean I take a holiday from my recovery. If I do not have my equilibrium built upon the foundation of doing a few simple things to receive a reprieve from addiction and madness, then I have nothing. Worse than that, my crazy train starts up & I begin looking for passengers to take with me into krakalaka-ville aka Insanity!
Whatever your normal daily discipline is to keep balanced, I suggest you continue to maintain that during the holidays. Give yourself and others the opportunity to be known and to know you. My recovery is an intrinsic part of who I am. If you need tips on how to maintain your recovery during the holidays, please do not hesitate to Ask Me.
4. YOU ARE A GIFT
I don’t know if this is hard for you, but I really struggle with the commodification of holidays. We’re inundated with stories of how people suffer emotionally and economically during the holidays by trying to ensure they have enough gifts for everyone they “should” give to. I want you to know that your presence is a gift! Your willingness to share your time with others and to allow others to get to know you is worth more than putting yourself in debt or depleting emotional reserves.
If you feel compelled to give gifts: I have enjoyed making small donations to humanitarian organizations in the name of the people I am gifting to. My most favorite gifts to give are ones I can have fun making myself, or are coupons I create redeemable for time spent together doing fun activities.
5. CREATE YOUR OWN HOLIDAY
Do you ever feel like the holidays are something imposed on you, rather than something you create yourself? Are there certain rituals you’ve always just done, because that’s the way it is?
You have permission to use your imagination & design holiday rituals that embody what the holidays really mean to you! This gives me a feeling of belonging and relating to the holidays on a more profound level. Often it can feel as if we are tolerating life, rather than creating it. I believe you are courageous and I encourage you to take time to create a ritual this holiday season that has special meaning for you.
6. BE OF SERVICE
Drowning in a swamp of misery, loneliness, alcohol, or food is nowhere we’re going to be this winter, right? Let’s get out of the abyss together! Over the years I have volunteered my time during the holidays at crisis phone lines, soup kitchens, or packaging items for those in need. These are only a few of the many ways we can be of service to others. I’m not suggesting you stress over how to give, or exhaust yourself by giving too much to others and not enough to yourself. I’m suggesting you try…try to keep your eyes open for someone who needs help: Call someone to check-in & remind them that they’re not alone; Go with someone to a recovery meeting; Help someone who is struggling in some way.
It feels good to get outside of ourselves and our problems, even if for a little while, to be given a new perspective.
7. DRESS COMFORTABLY
Sounds silly? It’s one of the most practical pieces of advice I can give you! Back in the day when I wore heels to every special occasion, I use to call them my “drinking shoes.” I would have to have a couple of glasses of whatever type of alcohol was available to anesthetize the foot pain, never mind the emotional pain. I don’t need social anesthetic today. What I need are comfortable clothes and shoes I can be in for more than 2 hours at a time. During the holidays, my siblings and I celebrate “Pajama World.” It is one of our self-created rituals where we all wear pajamas, watch movies & spend time together.
Comfort + Fun = A Great Time
I suggest you try the exercise on closet clearing. Afterwards pick an outfit that is most authentically and comfortably you.
I am happy to support your journey towards wholeness this holiday season. Please Share this with others.
Terminally Forgetful: Helping motivated survivors transform their lives. A place to share your stories, ask questions and receive support and tools for healing and transformation.