Tips for Facing the Holidays
The holiday season is often portrayed in the media as a happy, joyous, and peaceful time of year. However, when addiction has affected our families, it’s more likely to be a stressful, anxious, chaotic time of year.
FAMILY SUPPORT NEWSLETTER
The holiday season is often portrayed in the media as a happy, joyous, and peaceful time of year. However, when addiction has affected our families, it’s more likely to be a stressful, anxious, chaotic time of year. Disappointment from broken promises, fears of “what if…”, and longing for “the good old days” are much more often the case. But even if our situation is “not ok,” we can find ways to be “ok” in the midst of it all. Here are some ideas to try:
Let go of expectations. Expectations only set us up for disappointment and create resentments. Trying to create the “perfect” day or re-create memories from the past will most likely end in frustration. Instead, allow yourself to feel the disappointment that the holidays aren’t “how they used to be” and then find ways to enjoy your current situation. Acceptance is the key. If we can accept that “this is the way it is right now,” we can then let go of our expectations of how it “should” be and be able to better live in and enjoy the moment. Recovery slogans like “Keep it Simple,” “One Day at a Time,” and “Let Go and Let God” can help us to live in the moment and enjoy it for what it is. Maybe your loved one who is addicted won’t attend Christmas dinner. Instead of obsessing over their absence, plan to invite other people you enjoy being with. And be intentional about enjoying the family members who are there.
“…try to keep it simple. You can’t do everything and you can’t meet everyone’s expectations (without sacrificing your own mental health). Rather than trying to accomplish everything, simplify your holidays by choosing a few things that really matter to you, then fully participate in them. When things start to feel overwhelming, pare down your schedule, simplify your itinerary…The holidays don’t have to be complicated to be beautiful.” (Hazelden article December 6, 2021)
Plan ahead and have a back up plan in case a situation changes, someone cancels last minute, or you get in an uncomfortable spot. Planning ahead gives you options so you don’t have to feel stuck or find yourself scrambling to make last minute changes.
You may have some family traditions that you love and want to hold onto, but why not try something new? Your day won’t be ruined if you don’t keep a tradition. Talk with your family members about other ideas of activities, dinner plans, or decorations. Maybe you’ll start a new tradition! Remember the holidays are meant to be enjoyed. So do things that bring you joy. Remind yourself of what the holidays are really all about and find ways to keep your focus there.
Try gratitude. When we take time to be grateful for what we do have, we have less of a tendency to focus on what we don’t have.
Keep hope alive. It’s easy to slip into despair and hopelessness when our loved one is suffering from addiction. But we all need hope in our lives. “(our loved one) is addicted, but their story isn't finished yet. Recovery is available to everyone who wants it.” (Hazelden article November 9, 2021) Having hope that our loved ones may one day find recovery from addiction can help us keep believing in them even when they can’t believe in themselves.
If it’s too much to have hope for your loved one, have some hope for yourself. Shifting your focus off your addicted loved one and onto yourself is a good place to start. Try connecting with others who also have addicted family members (such as people in Al-Anon or Nar-Anon), find ways to take care of yourself (body, mind, and spirit), slow down and take some quiet time, read something encouraging, do an act of kindness for someone in need. Keeping your cup full will help you keep the hope alive that you are recovering from the effects of addiction, and you will have more peace, serenity, and joy as you continue.
From all of us at Jericho Road, we wish you a peace-filled Christmas!