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Holiday Stress Management

Women and the holidays have a unique relationships. Many of us feel the societal pressures to be the appointed Holiday planner. We put together the presents, the wrapping, the decorating, the invitations, the dinner planning, the dinner preparing, the dinner clean up, the desserts, the coffee, the tea, the drinks, and so much more. Women are nothing short of incredible every day of the year. During the holiday season, women’s multi-tasking superhero powers come out to shine.

If you’re a woman in your first year of recovery, this year might be different. This year you aren’t hiding in the bathroom doing drugs. You aren’t waking up earlier than everyone else to get your drinking in before they wake up. This year, you might be cooking with wine instead of cooking drunk on wine. Your first year of recovery is full of challenges- one of which might be getting through this holiday season clean and sober.

Since you aren’t going to be drunk or high this year, you might believe that the holiday season will be easier. Eager and excited to show off your new life capabilities, you take on all of the tasks as normal and prepare yourself for the festivities. When they come, you are more stressed than you thought you would be. This is harder than you thought it would be, you realize, even without the drugs and alcohol. We easily forget in recovery that drugs and alcohol put us in a different state of mind. That is, we aren’t fully present to ourselves, our emotions, and our responsibilities. Our euphoric, altered state of mind might have ‘helped’ us in some ways and ‘harmed’ us in others. Either way, without any drugs or alcohol in our system this holiday season we are forced to be present through every single part of the occasion. We have to take care of ourselves while trying to take care of others. All of it combined can prove to be overwhelming.

What we need to do is take a deep breath.

If we aren’t up for the challenge of taking on the holidays this year, we can make other plans. No matter the plans we have made, the arrangements others have made, we can make a change. Order pizza or takeout. Find a last minute reservation at a restaurant. Have everyone bring their favorite microwave dinner. You’re learning in recovery not to be a ‘flake’ and to maintain accountability to your responsibilities. However, there is a fine line to consider when something as trivial as holiday plans is threatening your serenity, which, in early recovery, threatens your sobriety. As long as you stay sober, there is a better chance at making next year extra spectacular.