Heads Up for the HolidaysMany of you may be striving for freedom from depression, anxiety or addictive behaviors this holiday season. The “most wonderful time of year” can be one of the lowest times of the year if you’re already struggling and susceptible to the usual holiday triggers. You can be impacted in ways you don’t even realize.

Here’s a few suggestions to help you recognize those holiday triggers, avoid relapsing in your recovery, and in the midst of the sorrow and sadness that may fill your heart, find reasons to smile this holiday by trusting in Isaiah 40:31 (NLT):

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.

Holiday stress is normal.
Accept and acknowledge that holiday stress is impacting you. For example, it may be about money and how you’ll pay off Christmas. It could be about hosting people for a gathering, or about having to be ‘on‘ when folks are around or stress from traveling. And relational stress because you and your loved ones disagree on things this time of year. Realize stress is impacting you and practice what you have learned in your recovery to manage the season.

Family factors matter.
If you’re going to be around parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws or outlaws, you have to acknowledge how it may impact you. If there is trauma or wounding from your family of origin, there will likely be triggers. Stay connected relationally with safe people and also make time to recover! Boundaries will be a helpful tool as you interact with family and friends.

Be aware of the roles you take on.
It’s not uncommon for adults to resume their ‘place‘ in the family – to take on a child role when they’re around their parents. There is typically a well-oiled family machine, and every cog has its position and role to play. At the very least, that role is often inauthentic and you become someone different than who you are in the present. Boundaries is again the tool, but also practicing using your voice to represent who you are now. Be aware of being reactive – instead recognize where you ‘slip‘ back into your role and make an effort to represent your new life!

Avoid alcohol.
Alcohol is a depressant- you might think it will release some of the anxiety you are experiencing with the holiday stress, but it could make everything worse. Depression and drinking often occur together. Of course if you are in recovery from alcohol, one drink is too many and two drinks are never enough — so stay in your sobriety, connect with your sponsor and attend your meetings.

Do something different.
Being part of the spirit of the season can make all the difference! Participate in a charitable project, giving and serving is really a life changing experience. Connect with your church or community for places and events to be part of. If you have always done the same thing during the holidays and it is overwhelming, maybe cut one thing out and create some space in your schedule.

If you’re struggling to win the battle over depression, anxiety or addictive behaviors, we want to be a source of hope and encouragement for you! Call us at 800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433), and we’ll get you connected with just the right help.

May this Christmas season be one filled with gratitude and love. And as you enter the New Year — you can know that you were authentically you, standing for integrity and character!