If you're in long-term recovery like I am, you know that holidays come with built-in danger zones. Those of us who have weathered the seasonal storms for many years have learned what helps—and what doesn't. There are pitfalls to watch out for, situations to avoid, and positive options to choose that can make this time of year an opportunity to practice mindfully taking charge of your own health and happiness.
"The holidays can be a stressful time of year for anyone and can be even more so for those in early recovery from mental health or substance abuse issues," says Kristin Wilson, director of clinical outreach at Newport Academy. "Without your usual school or work schedules, you might be more prone to feelings of boredom, loneliness, and isolation," she notes. And a heightened focus on relationships can be a source of suffering rather than celebration. "The holidays usually mean extended time with family and, depending on the family dynamics, interactions may lead to feelings of guilt and sadness," Wilson says.
Here are a few of Wilson's tips for bolstering your mental and emotional resilience so you can navigate the holidays without losing your balance. They work the other 11 months of the year, too!