How to Prepare for Your First Thanksgiving in Recovery
Drug and alcohol addiction recovery is an ongoing, day-to-day struggle.
Just as you start to feel good about the consistency in your life, the holidays show up and promise to add unwanted stress.
Thanksgiving tends to be the start of a stressful season for those suffering from alcohol and drug addiction. The demands on you emotionally become hard to bear. How will you get through this holiday?
Realize Your Needs and Set Realistic Expectations for Yourself
Your needs for support and counseling do not become nonexistent during the holidays. Many people find that it’s even more important that they seek out therapy sessions and group counseling during this period.
As Thanksgiving approaches, set aside a few minutes of time for yourself. Meditate or center yourself for a moment. Give yourself time to consider all you’ve achieved so far. At Thanksgiving, recognize these good things about where you are right now.
Doing this helps to bring you back to yourself. Many men and women put a lot of expectation on themselves on Thanksgiving to simply handle everything without worry and fear. You may expect yourself to be able to be social and feel comfortable around everyone, but chances are good you won’t.
Focus Only on the Present Moment
Whether you are becoming overwhelmed by the prospect of Thanksgiving dinner or you are in the heat of the moment right now, focus just on this one, single moment. You don’t have to think about anything in the past. You do not have to worry about what will happen tomorrow.
Take a deep breath in. Recognize it’s okay to feel overwhelmed, but it’s also up to you to work through it personally.
Don’t Make Too Many Promises
Multiple locations for family dinners may not work for you this year. You may not be able to get up early for that Thanksgiving Day turkey football game that’s a family tradition. Instead, perhaps stay home and watch the parade.
The key here is to keep things simple, especially if this is your first Thanksgiving in addiction recovery. Even as family begin to demand more of your time and effort, simply say, “I need to do this for myself my way.” Thank them for supporting you, but make your recovery your top priority.
Recognize Shame, Guilt, and Fear
Many people feel shame or guilt about their addiction. Even if it doesn’t directly impact anyone else in your family, you feel embarrassed by what has happened. In some situations, this may be exactly what is holding you back from enjoying the holiday.
Address these feelings with your treatment team. Talk about why you feel this way. If there is a specific person who may trigger these feelings, discuss that too. Depending on who that person is, it may be wise to invite them to a therapy session to work through the concerns you have before the holiday arrives.
Monitor Your Mental Health
Depression is very common in individuals going through alcohol and drug recovery, especially during high-stress periods such as Thanksgiving and the holidays in general. Monitor yourself for depression-like behavior, such as pulling out of all social events or feeling sad about where you are in your life. Bring these topics up to your treatment professionals and focus on the self-care strategies that have worked for you in the past.
Remember, you are still in recovery. You may be thankful for all the progress you’ve made over the last year, but you are not at the finish line just yet. If you are struggling as a result of Thanksgiving or holiday stress, seek out help from your team at Victory.
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