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woman during the holidaysAddiction is a constant struggle throughout the year for most sufferers; and the upcoming holidays can be an increasingly difficult time to cope with this disease. Triggers experienced during the holidays can include loneliness, body image, loss, financial, peer pressure, and anxiety – just to name a few. When families come together and celebrations are happening all around, it can often tempt one to partake in drug or alcohol use that can stir up many negative emotions which are masked by giving in to an addictive substance that can temporarily alleviate, numb or suspend the feelings and lead to repeated behavior.

If possible, seeking addiction therapy before the holidays arrive can help put things into perspective and provide necessary tools to enjoy a clean and sober season. The key here is to always plan ahead, so let’s take a look at some common triggers and how to cope with them in a healthy way.

Loneliness

As family and friends traditionally come together during the holidays, many individuals will find themselves alone. If others aren’t available or accessible, spending the holidays alone can be very isolating and depressing. This can trigger feelings of loneliness resulting in substance abuse or promiscuous sex and porn addiction.

Finding groups that appeal to one’s personal interests in a sober setting, such as sports-related or other events, can create a sense of togetherness and support. This helps to build and strengthen relationships with like-minded individuals within the local area. Not only is building friendships in a sober setting invaluable, these bonding experiences will likely continue beyond the holidays.

Body Image

The holidays are a time for spreading joy and typically indulging in decadent meals and desserts. For individuals struggling with body image, this is often the hardest time of the year as it is hard to make healthy eating choices with so much temptation. The internal struggle to avoid these foods and the feelings of pressure and guilt can lead to binge eating and/or substituting with other vices.

Rather than solely relying on will-power, preparing a healthy meal to eat beforehand or bringing healthy dishes to share with everyone can eliminate any guilt later or uncomfortable situations later on in the evening. Forming healthy habits such as these will take time just as any so little by little is perfectly acceptable.

Loss

Grieving the loss of loved ones during the holidays can be extremely difficult. Looking through old pictures or noticing the empty seat at the dinner table can be almost too much for one to bear. The holidays should be a time of remembering the good times instead of suppressing the pain which will likely lead to substance abuse or poor decisions.

No one is truly emotionally prepared for when a life is loss. Seeking help as an individual, or through family counseling, is the most courageous thing to do in order to gain the guidance and clarity needed to navigate through this difficult time. The healing process will take time but the first step is to acknowledge the pain. With the right support, the sadness and anger will get easier to deal with over time.

Financial

Nowadays, the inherent sense to keep up with the Joneses has become unrealistic and almost impossible to achieve. Not only is there a new high-priced mobile phone that comes out every few months that makes all previous models extinct, most households are struggling to keep their heads above water. In previous times when a holiday bonus was the norm with most companies, that expectation is something of the past for most people out in the workforce today.

Not overindulging and going even further into debt should always be a top priority. Budgeting for the holidays and remembering to be thankful for a family, source of income, food on the table, and a place to call home, will certainly put things into perspective as well as avoid financial burden.

Pressure

Social gatherings often involve a certain amount of pressure to indulge in alcohol or other substances. When holiday spirits are high and everyone is having a good time, it becomes increasingly hard to avoid partaking. Peer pressure, whether from friends, family or even co-workers, can lead to feelings of regret and anger.

A good way to get out of these types of situations is to be totally up front. Honesty is always the best policy, and good friends will appreciate the level of transparency entrusted upon them. If this is not an option, avoiding these types of situations altogether may be the best alternative.

Anxiety

Any even that takes place in a public setting, such as holiday get-togethers, will make anyone feel anxious. Thinking about something and constantly giving it attention will cause stress and anxiousness which will lead to the desire to avoid or suppress these feelings.

Visualization is a great method used by almost every successful person. Attempting to visualize the most enjoyable holiday experience and truly believing in that can completely change the course of events. Remembering the most pleasant holidays from the past and feeling the emotions felt during those experiences is a great place to start. Keeping a journal or even penning a letter to someone that isn’t intended to be delivered will also help with focus and expression.

Whether it is self-inflicted or out of one’s own control, emotions and stress levels can lead to increasingly erratic and risky behavior during the holidays. Awareness and preparedness are important precautions but of course every person has their own story and faces their own unique circumstances. As always, enlisting the help of a professional addiction therapist will make a world of difference for this upcoming holiday season and beyond.

Categories: Addiction, Blog

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