Giving, receiving, rejoicing and being thankful are just a select few of the tasks and emotions that come with the holiday season. For many the holiday season is a time for family and fun but for others it is a time that brings stress. Whether you are preparing for the holiday season physically with deciding what food you will have and who will be coming or if you are preparing for the holiday season mentally and emotionally, it is a task that brings great pressure. When Christmas begins to peek around the corner, excitement starts to fill the air.
Kids begin talking about what they will ask for, adults talking about seeing long lost relatives and often we hear, “what can I buy?” For the ones coping with Mental Health disabilities, these are the individuals we hear saying, “Do I have to leave the house?” The holidays bring chaos to the outside world and we stand and watch from the inside looking out at it all taking place around us but for those who have the barrier of anxiety, depression and other mental health related disorders, chaos takes place on the inside. Much like standing on the outside of the house and looking in through the window. You can see the people inside and technically there is only a few feet between you and them but the window causes a “disconnect” between you and the other people and you begin to feel unheard or overwhelmed. Like you are screaming from the inside, beating to get out, but no one can hear your thoughts, the anxiety sets in and you begin to feel trapped. Or as if you are standing in a busy roadway but there is no noise.
You watch the movement but cannot hear their sounds. Complete and utter chaos breaks out in the mind. For individuals who have thrown substance abuse into the mix of things, this is the time when using would make sense. While looking for comfort in a world of chaos, anxiety and stress, created by the holidays; why not turn to the one place that always brings comfort and numbness to situations that make one uncomfortable, their drug of choice. Substance abuse substitutes for the family and begins to take the place of warm bodies and the need for interaction with other people. Family starts to disappear. So while some are enjoying the idea that the holidays will soon be here as they prepare the menus, buy the gifts and invite the people; some are merely hoping their phone is not the one that rings with your invitation on the other end.
While you prepare to go about your holidays, whether you are dealing with mental health disabilities or substance abuse; those who are battling full force with their shield and sword at hand keep these tips in mind when doing your mental preparation.
Safe/Quiet Place – separate yourself from the crowded family room and unwind, calm down and spend a few quiet moments for yourself to re-focus. Before the day arrives be sure you know a safe and quiet place you can go to capture a few moments of peace. (ex: bathroom, bedroom or outside).
Rituals – Do not overindulge in the free spirit and free time of the holidays. While enjoying some time off, a break, and time with your family, make the effort to stick to your daily rituals that are crucial to your continued sobriety and winning battle against substance abuse or mental health disabilities. (ex: AA/NA meetings, prayer time, mediation, sleep schedule).
Limits/Saying NO – Limit yourself on the amount of responsibility you agree to while preparing for the holiday. Be aware of your limit you have set for yourself and stick to it. Do not be afraid to say, “NO”, if you have already reached the limit of responsibility you have allowed yourself.
Buddy – One rule while in recovery that you learn is; avoid other active substance abuser. If there is someone in your family that you know is active in their addiction, avoid being alone with them. Ask a friend or family member that you trust to be your, “BUDDY”, for that day. They are your source of comfort and words of encouragement if they are needed. Stay close to your buddy throughout the day.
BES Group & Associates/Solutions Plus – Beaumont H. Fuller, R. Willett, H. Garner, L. Garner