Christmas in Recovery… How to Cope
Christmas in Recovery can basically be summed up in a single word: Yikes! A few other words work too, but they’re all expletives. And we’d really rather not cuss our way through the Holidays. Not if we can help it anyway.
Actually experience says we can help it. It might not always be easy-peasy. But you can surely get through alright. In fact, you’ll do more than simply get through. You’ll have a truly Happy Holiday. And that’s the big idea right?
Of course it is. So please, read on, pocket a hint or two and get ready to crack a smile. Then be prepared to keep that smile straight through till 2022. Heck, if you stay at it, that smile will stick for the rest of your life.
Christmas in Recovery: The Cross Pond Edition
This year we decided to grab our helpful Holiday Hints from clear across the pond. Yep, that’s right. We went over to Dublin. Knocklyon Road to be precise. That’s where you’ll find a supremely-regarded addiction treatment facility called Rutland Centre. It’s a helluva helpful place. And not just because Emma Kavanagh is clinical services head either. Since Manager Kavanagh is the Rutland Centre operative who covered Christmas in Recovery for The Irish Times, it is she to whom we shall turn.
And oh, what an instructive turn! Kavanagh covers everything from routine to planning, habits to happenstance, the musts and the must not’s, as well as a few why-risk-it’s. Her advice is simple, smart and effective. All you’ve gotta do is heed.
So, without further ado, here are a few ways to help you have some truly Happy Holidays!
Christmas in Recovery
– Routine is important in recovery. Incredibly important. You know it. We know it. And Kavanagh knows it too. She also knows “it can go [easily] out the window for all of us over the holidays.” So what to do? Sleep solidly, eat well and get your daily exercise. “All those things that affect us physiologically are also going to affect us emotionally and psychologically,” says Kavanagh. “The more we can keep them in place, the better resourced we’ll be to deal with other challenges that threaten our recovery.”
– Your recovery community is also quite important. So, stay connected to it. Sure, family and friends are also important. Hugely important. But they must come in addition to rather than instead of. Sober support is “the cornerstone of a good solid recovery.” It’s even “more important during this time of year.”
– Be honest. “Acknowledge how you feel… Many people struggle, particularly during early recovery.” And that’s okay. No, it doesn’t mean dumping your sourness on to others. But it doesn’t mean putting on a brave face so you don’t dampen someone’s Christmas either. If you’re feeling off, tell someone. Ideally, someone in — or at least aware of — recovery. “It’s really important that people are able to do that, says Kavanagh. “It’s important for their recovery, and it’s important for mental health in general.”
– Know your triggers. A cocaine addict isn’t necessarily triggered by coke. It might simply be “feeling isolated.” It also might be feeling let down or disregarded by a colleague or loved one. Emotional triggers come in a wide variety of colors, not just the color of drugs.
– Check in, either with yourself or with someone you trust, as often as you need. This goes along with being honest and open about how you’re feeling. If sober support isn’t around, write it all down. Then read it through and ask yourself why. Chances are good the exercise will calm your head. In fact, they’re damn good. And a calm head doesn’t need substances to calm it down.
– Don’t worry about “missing out” on something you’re not fully comfortable with. If a certain holiday party is known to get out of hand, skip it. If a certain someone is known to rub you the wrong way, avoid them. And if a certain location brings back too many bad memories, go somewhere else. “Missing out” now means being present later. And most times you’re not missing anything anyway.
– Have a plan. Then go over that plan until it looks foolproof. Better yet, go over it with someone from your sober support system. People in recovery generally know what can most trip us up — or best propel us through. But if you can’t get with another, at least get with yourself. Be honest and objective with your plan; then stick to it.
Healing Properties wishes too extend a tremendous Thanks to Rutland Center Clinical Services Manager Emma Kavanagh for providing such handy and helpful for enjoying Christmas in Recovery. We’d also like The Irish Times for ensuring her good words were heard by the most people possible. To have such a revered publication address such a pressing issue is a gift to behold. It also shows recovery is now an open subject. Something that’s absolutely necessary if we’re ever going to segue away from mass addiction and overdose.
We additionally want to wish each and every one of you Happy Happy Holidays! Whether or not you’re spending Christmas in recovery, this is a time for true warmth and cheer. So if you see someone who might be struggling through, extend a helpful hand, please. Even the slightest kind word can make a person’s day. And this time of year, that just might mean you’ll be making their Holiday!
How about you? Are you spending this Christmas in recovery? Would you like to be? It could be life-saving you know? Genuinely life-saving. And all you’ve gotta do is pick up the phone and call. What do you say? Are you ready to enjoy a truly Happy Holiday?