By Louis Daniel Whatley, LPC
For those who have addiction problems, the holidays can be a stressful and problematic time. The loneliness of not being with loved ones, dreading the time with family and relatives, and being caught up in a shopping and gift-giving frenzy along with gridlocked shoppers’ traffic in stores and on the streets can strain coping mechanisms. With these holiday stressors combined, if you and your loved one has an addiction problem, the holidays can exacerbate the issue.
Being around family can be nerve-racking. Drinking and/or using drugs may seem to be the best and only way to manage. Individuals with food and shopping addictions may be in total bliss as holiday sales galore are very tempting and bad choices of sugary and fatty foods we normally don’t consume during the year are the seasonal norm. For those dealing with sexual or pornography issues, acting out is a way to escape to obtain a short period of peace. If you or a loved one is dealing with any of the above addictions, here are a few tips that may help you get through this holiday season:
1. Exercise and get plenty of rest. Do not miss or stray from your current exercise regimen. If sleep is a problem due to stress, check with your doctor and obtain a natural sleep remedy, such as Melatonin, to help.
2. Eat a healthy meal before you attend holiday parties. Substitute fatty foods and drinks for healthy choices.
3. Buddy up! Take a safe friend with you to parties and gatherings to help you stay focused.
4. Learn to say "No!" If you are invited to a party or an event that you may feel uncomfortable attending, thankfully decline the offer. Or alternatively, do your homework and know who’s attending the party! If you have an attraction to anyone who’s attending or if there are any “unsafe” guests invited, make alternative plans.
5. Go late and leave early to holiday parties. Less time for you to be tempted.
6. Make a holiday shopping list and a budget, and stick with it. Don’t feel obligated to buy everybody a gift. Just because it’s on sale does not mean you need it or need to purchase it. Realize your needs from your wants.
7. You can’t change the individuals in your family, but you can model good behavior. Keep busy when you are visiting relatives like attending Christmas plays and musicals or the movies together, ride around your local town to view Christmas lights, or play board games. Keep your mind busy by doing healthy activities.
8. Volunteer at our many shelters and centers for persons and families in need. Take the focus off yourself and the stress, and help others. We all have a gift of giving ourselves.
9. Keep your counselor and/or group counseling appointments as well as attending church and spiritual services. These are the times when we who are powerless to an addiction need the most support.
10. Make sure you have quiet time for yourself to regroup/pray or meditate. Keep your focus and remind yourself that the holidays are actually celebrated one full week out of the year. Keep strong. You can do it!
Positive Outlook Counseling
Marci B. Stiles, MA, LPC-S, NBCC
16610 North Dallas Parkway, Ste 2100
Dallas TX, 75248
Positive Outlook Counseling services range from individual counseling to family therapy to marriage counseling services. Marci Stiles specializes in individual, family, marriage and troubled teen therapy.
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