Holidays bring days to be enjoyed and spent with loved ones making memories, but this time of year can be overwhelming for some. When working through recovery, being in environments that are triggering can be dangerous.
Something we can forget is that holiday events are not mandatory, and you are not obligated to stay or attend. Instead, remind yourself that your mental health comes first. An article published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides great tips for managing holiday stress, one of which is to permit yourself to say no.
At Healing Pines Recovery, we provide the tools you need to tackle overwhelming emotions. Then, the proper tools and the ability to recognize your triggers and unsafe environments handling holidays can be done.
What are Triggers & How to Manage Them
There can be a lot to take in during the holidays, and it may sometimes feel overwhelming. Noticing your triggers in these moments can help you better manage your feelings or decide to remove yourself from the conversation or environment. So, what is a trigger, and how do you spot them?
A trigger can stimulate negative emotions, thoughts, or memories. For instance, if you struggle with alcohol addiction, sometimes seeing others drink or seeing alcohol can be triggering. This can bring on feelings of cravings or negative thoughts. The best thing to do in these situations is to assess what is triggering you, communicate it to others, or leave the area to take a breath.
Triggers can also be associated with trauma; for some individuals, this is the root of their substance use. Fortunately, there are several helpful tips to recognize holiday triggers that may affect those with trauma.
Benefits of a Holiday Support System
One way you help manage the stress of the holidays is to build a support system. This can be friends who attend events with you or trusted family members. Having a support system can help you feel less alone in these situations.
The best way to create a support system is to choose people you trust and can openly communicate with. Discuss your triggers and warning signs that you are becoming overwhelmed. Managing stress during holiday events can be easier with another person to help keep you grounded.
When choosing your support system, make sure it consists of people you can trust and openly communicate with. Communication and understanding are key aspects of a healthy support system. The people you choose should also be close to you because they understand you and your behaviors.
Create an Exit Plan
A healthy strategy to go into the holidays is creating an exit plan. Creating an exit plan can be one way to make sure you are not put into uncomfortable situations. When you make your plan, you can include your support system, which can be helpful since you will have another person to help you execute your plan.
The main goal of creating an exit plan is to know when the environment is no longer safe or conducive to your mental health. This is why knowing your triggers is crucial. Having an exit plan in the back of your mind can reassure you that you are prepared for any situation.
When creating an exit plan, try to create different exit strategies for different scenarios. Some things to be prepared for can include:
- Family members or other guests asking difficult or intrusive questions about you or your recovery
- Any “playful” jokes being made about your recovery
- Being around substances that you previously struggled with
- Feelings of being overwhelmed
- Being guilted into staying longer than you can handle
Sometimes, it is better to be over-prepared, so there is no room for the unexpected. Remember to monitor how you are feeling and what can be warning signs that you are overwhelmed.
Find Help in Colorado with Healing Pines
Holidays should be a time of joy where you can spend time in the moment without worrying or being anxious. The important things to remember are knowing your triggers and when you need to leave the environment. Knowing triggers and having someone you trust as a support system can also be a great way to handle the holidays. For some, this is not enough, and professional treatment is strongly recommended.
At Healing Pines Recovery, we offer individual therapy programs that can help you learn to manage overwhelming emotions. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a form of psychotherapy or talk therapy that can help those who struggle with regulating their emotions. Managing overwhelming emotions can seem impossible when you don’t have the proper guidance. Our expert team at Healing Pines Recovery aims to help you achieve those tools.
There are many ways to prepare for the holidays and lessen the stress that comes with them. For those in recovery, being ready for these environments will help you manage emotions and overall help with long-term success.
The holidays are there to spend time with family and friends to cherish the moments together. At the same time, the holidays can be stressful and bring a lot of anxiety for those in recovery.
Understanding your triggers, having a support system, and creating an exit plan can be key factors in getting through the holidays. Also, remember that you are not obligated to stay in an environment that is not safe for you.
At Healing Pines Recovery, we teach you the skills you will need to navigate things like the holidays and how to manage overwhelming emotions. If you identify as male and need help, reach out to Healing Pines Recovery today at (720) 575-2621.