By Jo Ann Hummers on December 23, 2021
With the holidays upon us, it is important that a holiday is really “just another day.”
It could have very special meaning for many but might also pose a threat to those in early recovery. This threat comes in the form of “expectations” that the day “should” be outstanding or that special dreams “should” be fulfilled. While the special day may be wonderful, it is possible that hopes and dreams may not be realized, and disappointment may seem to be too great to handle without resorting to alcohol or another drug.
Of course, anyone might feel uneasy about a holiday, whether in early recovery or not. It would also be helpful for friends and family members to be aware of the possible stressors. By reaching out to a person who seems anxious about a holiday, they can be very helpful.
One form of disappointment takes place if we believe that “everyone else” is likely to have an “ideal day” just because it is a holiday. Actually, holidays are stressful times for most people because of changes in routines, additional projects to complete, people to entertain. It is important to not compare our feelings with the outward appearances of other people.
A useful approach is to treat each day as any other day, with routine tasks to accomplish. If you want to do something special, it is fun to plan what you would like to do and to anticipate how it may turn out. Omitting “expectations,” however, and replacing them with hopes or “possible outcomes” helps to eliminate the disappointment of those expectations not being fully met.
Often a holiday presents more “free time” than most other days. Since work schedules vary, some businesses will be closed, and friends and neighbors may be out of town. Ideas about how to spend this time include:
In other words, make the most of the opportunity a holiday offers to refresh yourself and to have some fun. You deserve it!
Jo Ann Hummers, EdD, is a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist. She has a private practice at the Nags Head Professional Center. Her work includes DWI assessments and treatment, smoking cessation sessions, and treatment for gambling addiction. This column was expanded from some in previous holiday seasons.