Although the holidays are marketed as “the most wonderful time of the year”, it certainly does not feel that way to everyone.
Time with family can be stressful, the temptation to return to drugs and alcohol can feel very real, and the overall feel of the holiday season can seem less jolly than desired.
Here are 5 ways to avoid having a blue Christmas this year:
1. Choose Commitments Wisely
You may be expected to show up at a family gathering, or to attend a certain set of social events, but if you are not going to feel comfortable in certain environments, then simply decline an invitation.
Choosing when to step out and mingle and when to have a quiet night in, no matter what day your calendar says, is a great practice in self-care and a great way to avoid a blue Christmas this year.
2. Remember H.A.L.T.
We are much more likely to make poor decisions when we feel hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, so taking time to check in with your current mental and emotional states is important.
Did you choose wisely and commit to a party that you are now feeling too tired to attend? You have the right to not go. When tired, for example, the chances of you making decisions that are not aligned with your values, goals, and new way of life are higher. What can you do instead? Take a nap and see how you feel? Rent a movie and cook some dinner either alone or with a trusted friend?
3. Strive for Balance
Foods high in fat and sugar are plentiful this time of year, and when combined with the increased portion sizes, many of us do not feel great. Instead of indulging at every event, and every time a treat is offered, stay balanced with your daily intake.
If you indulged at a get together last night, try having a breakfast of fruit and a whole grain (maybe oatmeal or wheat toast with peanut butter) and a hearty salad for lunch. Starting the day off with good food choices leads to better food choices throughout the day.
4. Reach Out
Whether you attend a formal meeting, a support group, or casually meet with people from your sober community, stay connected in some way each day. You do not want to wait until you feel blue to contact people. By staying connected, you prevent the blues and, when you start feeling down, you are already in touch with those who know how to help.
5. Get Moving!
By simply taking a walk everyday, you are getting the blood flowing and keeping your body in active mode. A jog, an hour of yoga, a trip to the gym, a bike ride, or anything else that makes you feel good is even more important this time of year.
What can also keep you from a blue Christmas is movement in the form of volunteering. It is hard to be down when you are helping others. Check with your local food kitchen or charitable donation centers for when and where you can provide service to those in need.
Jared Friedman is a quality improvement manager who specializes in depression treatment at Sovereign Health.