Yes, the holiday season is a busy and exciting time, but it can also be hard. Whether you’re an individual in treatment or recovery or a support person for a loved one, you’re bound to face some roadblocks between now and the New Year. I recently spoke with my colleague Roxanne Sardone of Grounded Nutrition Therapy about this topic, and I’m thrilled to share our conversation with you. In today’s blog post (as well as the video above), we discuss why the holidays are hard as well as five tips to help you handle the most challenging moments.
Why the Holidays Are Hard
To start, with the holidays comes a disruption to your regular routine. It’s difficult to know what to expect, how to eat, and what to do in the days following. “It’s a total change in your daily schedule,” Roxanne explains. “Life can be hard enough to navigate even with the predictability of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”
On top of the uncertainty, there are a lot of emotions associated with the holiday season. The pressure to make the holiday just right raises everyone’s anxiety. There’s also an increased need to show up and navigate social situations, which can make you feel both uncomfortable and exhausted. As you begin making plans, it’s important to set boundaries about what you can and can’t do.
And, of course, there are family dynamics at play. Given the increased stress, conflicts during the holidays are normal. It’s not unusual for you to feel tension among your family members. If you have a large family, I recommend splitting your time among a few smaller groups to help you all stay calm. When needed, practice your breathing techniques to ground yourself.
I also want to add that the holidays can be a time filled with loneliness. You may be reminded of a loved one that you’ve lost or relationships that have changed in recent years. Give yourself space for these emotions. It’s okay to have a cry about your loss or to take some down time and just be alone with your grief.
Five Reflections to Help You Navigate the Holidays
Here are five tips to help you navigate the challenges of the holiday season:
Watch the video above for more tips to help you navigate the holidays during treatment or recovery. It is my hope that these ideas allow you to handle this season with optimism and give yourself some much-needed grace!
For more information, check out my website or reach out to me via my contact page. I offer free, 30-minute consultations to new clients.
Recovery from an eating disorder, addiction, or other mental health challenge is an incredible undertaking that requires courage and stamina. The individual has to make choices towards recovery in the presence of distress and discomfort. We cannot expect every day to go perfectly and must understand that there will be moments of doubt, mistakes, or simple slips in staying the course. In fact, those moments can provide very useful information about triggers, places of pain, and areas of focus. Still, recovering persons, support persons, and providers may understandably worry about these instances as a sign of an impending relapse.
Below is a Stoplight Plan that can be useful in recovery, especially when working with support persons and clinician team members to determine more support is needed. It is particularly important to assess progress overall, not moment by moment or even day to day. Progress assessed over a week’s time is recommended, so that one can focus on the successes and achievements as well as the areas of struggle. Furthermore, it is important to have a plan of action in writing and shared with others, one that clearly defines goals and progress measurements (i.e. Bonnie will attend two support meetings this week.).
When a recovering individual is on a green light, it means that, over the last week, they have maintained or made progress in recovery as measured by their treatment plan, nutritional plan, behavioral contract, and/or another goal. We are looking for progress rather than perfection. We are also focused on the ability to quickly recover from any moments or behavior choices that take one away from recovery.
It is advised that support persons and clinicians emphasize strengths, successes, and behaviors that are working rather than focus solely on problem areas. Reinforcing positive actions will help individuals feel competent and confident in recovery, and they will be more likely to choose these behaviors in the future.
A recovering individual on yellow is someone who is struggling and needs support and care to get back on track. Overall, progress is going in the wrong direction, and the recovering person, support persons, and clinicians are concerned.
At the yellow stage, it is recommended that a discussion among all support persons and clinicians is had to circle the wagons of support and help the individual reset and focus on goals. A clinician may call a “huddle” or start a written communication (with appropriate consents in place). The recovering individual has one to two weeks to demonstrate that they can get moving in the right direction. This time is a great opportunity to assess adding in some additional supports like online groups, family time, or an extra session with a clinician.
A red light means that the recovering person has not had success with getting back on track and it is time to discuss more intensive treatment options. This discussion is meant to be a motivator, not a threat.
A fear that many recovering persons have is that their clinicians and support persons will give up on them and tell them that can’t help them anymore. And, while it is true that there are times when the individual’s behavior requires support beyond what a clinician or support person can offer, it is also crucial to give the message that you believe that they can do it with added support. As long as the person is medically and psychiatrically stable, the clinicians and support persons can elect to give it another week for the individual to move back into recovery before referral to more intensive care.
The use of the Stoplight Plan can greatly reduce anxiety and worry about what to do when challenges arise during recovery. It also outlines how to give an individual both space and support as they undertake this difficult journey. Please feel free to share this plan with others.
Never give up hope!
Check out my website or reach out to me via my contact page. I offer free, 30-minute consultations to new clients.
Bonnie Brennan shares thoughts, inspiration, skills and resources for recovery