The holidays are a time of joy, love, and family…and unfortunately for some, they can also bring worsening depression and trauma and potential for relapse. Not exactly the type of situation that makes you want to sing Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la. If you’re worried about the holidays and the additional mental health and addiction struggles that they can invite, here are 12 tips from EHN Canada that can help make this time of year a little easier.
And if you feel like you’re struggling and need more support, talk to us about our inpatient treatment and our Intensive Outpatient Programs at 416-644-6345.
1. Let Hosts Know Ahead Of Time
that you would like to enjoy non-alcohol refreshments—or simply bring your own.
Attending a holiday dinner or party? Fun! If you’re not drinking, you can let your host know so they can prepare some alcohol-free beverages for you. Don’t want to cause fuss? No problem. Bring a bottle of sparkling water or any other beverage of choice.
2. Make A Budget
for holiday gift shopping and stick to it.
Attending a holiday dinner or party? Fun! If you’re not drinking, you can let of year. Try cutting down your list to only the essential people and make a plan for how much you can spend on each person.
3. Know That It’s Okay To Say No
to invitations to parties or family events.
Attending a holiday dinner or party? you don’t have to. It’s okay to say You can’t do it all—and you don’t have to. It’s okay to say “thank you, but no thank you” to holiday events. Do only what you’re comfortable with, especially if those situations you’re tempted to decline might bring potential triggers
4. Spend The Holidays In Treatment
and begin your recovery
Instead of triggering more stress, anxiety, trauma, or substance abuse over the holidays, start recovering from them instead. Our patients who have spent the holidays in treatment have told us what a rewarding (and fun) experience it was. Talk to us about our programs.
5. Plan Your Response
when offered alcohol.
Worried about being tempted in the moment, while at a holiday party? It helps to work out your response ahead of time. A simple “I’m not drinking tonight, but thank you,” should work just fine! Volunteering to be the designated driver to holiday events may provide a convenient excuse to prevent people from pressuring you into drinking.
6. Bring A Friend
to holiday events that will support you.
If relapse or going overboard is a concern, make your plus-one a trusted friend or relative, mentor or sponsor. This person knows your struggles, will watch out for you, and knows when you’re ready to go.
7. Do More Of The Things You Love
and less of the things you feel obligated to do.
Don’t forget—these are your holidays too. You don’t have to spend them feeling stressed or anxious about doing all the things others expect of you. Think about what you want to do, (whether it’s a little vacation, time alone with a book, or spending the holidays with friends instead) and do it!
8. Spend Time With Chosen Family
who truly understand and appreciate you.
Speaking of which. If your family relationships are strained, estranged, or simply stress-inducing, spend the holidays with the people who get you most. Your friends and partners are your chosen families, and you chose them for a reason.
9. Know Who To Turn To For Help
when you need it.
Getting to a tipping point and feeling like it’s too much to handle? You’re not in it alone. Think of who to go to for help or simply some compassion, whether it’s a friend, relative, doctor or therapist, or a help line.
10. Set Up A Safe Word
with a friend or partner to let them know when it’s time to go.
So you’ve decided to attend a holiday party! That’s great—until it isn’t. Set up a safe word with your plus-one so you can inconspicuously let them know you’ve had enough and it’s time to hit the road.
11. Stick To Your Healthy Habits
including exercise, eating right, and getting a good night’s sleep.
The holidays can be a busy time, at work and socially. It can be easy to push aside some of the healthy habits you’ve developed. But it’s never been more important to stick to them and stay feeling good and healthy.
12. Practice Relaxation Techniques
when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
You know the techniques that work for you when you’re feeling like it’s all too much. Whether it’s yoga, breathing, meditation, or simply a walk, do what you need to do to help feel calm and relaxed all season long. If you need some ideas for skills to practice, we’ve developed a Dialectical Behavioural Therapy Skills Card that contains some of the concepts we teach patients in treatment. We hope it’s helpful.
We truly hope your holidays are merry and bright, however, we know this isn’t always the case for everyone. So, if you’re struggling, please know that there are resources available to help you get better. Don’t hesitate to reach out.
Everyone at all of our facilities across the country — Edgewood, Bellwood, Clinique Nouveau Depart, Sandstone, Gateway, and Ledgehill, as well as the team at EHN Online — wishes you the best during this holiday season and a new year full of happiness and recovery.