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Recovery During the Holidays

by Jeff Ford, LMFT, Clinical Director

The holidays can be such a fun time of year as you celebrate, take time away from work and spend time with family. Of course, those same things that make the holidays so great can also pose a challenge for anyone in recovery. The time away from work can mean extra time for some to get back into old habits. The additional time with family may also mean lots of difficult conversations about your relationships. 

So what do you do? One of the best things to start doing right now is to prepare and set limits. 

Avoid the Disconnect

Relational pain is the number one catalyst to activate the addiction cycle. This means you need to pay extra attention to how you are feeling. When you start to get overwhelmed or stressed, find ways to connect rather than disconnecting. 

One common disconnect I have seen is guys who turn to video games thanks to the extra time they have during the holidays. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases they’re are just using the games as a way to disconnect from stress or other emotions they are feeling. Of course, they’re also disconnecting from their wife. She feels that disconnect and it can bring back trauma when she does. If that happens, turn away from the screen and turn toward each other. 

Have a Conversation

One great way to prepare for the holidays is to address it. Have a conversation. Put it in the light. For example, you might talk to your wife about the annual trip to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Are there things that you are she is worried about? Are there people there you may not be comfortable around right now? Even if family members know you are going through recovery, there can still be stress about what they will think or questions they might ask you. 

This conversation gives you and your spouse a chance to talk about how you can support each other. You can also decide what actions you’ll take if the stress becomes too much, or how to signal each other if you need some extra help. 

This holidays will be here before we know it. Take a few minutes now to prepare and it will make a huge difference.


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