Tips to Manage Stress and Maintain Sobriety Over the Holidays

It’s no secret that the holiday season can be stressful. From long shopping lists to family gatherings, peace and joy might be far from your mind — but that doesn’t mean you have to put your sobriety at risk.

When you’re a recovering addict, stress can affect your mental well-being and increase your chances of relapsing. Finding healthy ways to manage stress can help you get through the holidays and increase your chances of successful recovery all year long.

Daniel J. Headrick, MD, and our compassionate team at Headrick Medical Center are your partners in recovery. We understand that the holiday season can bring stress and the temptation to relapse. Take a look at our best tips for managing stress and maintaining your progress this year.

Make a plan

Before the holiday season is in full swing, take some time to think about your to-do list and potential pitfalls. Identify possible triggers, such as seeing old friends or handling nosy family members, and make a plan to maintain sobriety while navigating all your holiday events. 

Planning ahead and recognizing your limits puts you in control. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re tempted to relapse, don’t be afraid to say no. Whether it’s declining a champagne toast or an invitation to a family gathering, don’t feel guilty for putting your health first.

Prioritize exercise

Exercise is an important part of any healthy lifestyle, but did you know it boasts mental benefits, too? Physical activity is a natural stress reliever and it releases feel-good chemicals in the brain like serotonin and dopamine.

If you’re battling holiday stress, make your workout routine a priority. Whether you enjoy at-home high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts or you’d rather take the dog on a walk around the block, even just 10 minutes of exercise can lower stress levels and help you resist dangerous temptations to use. 

Give mindfulness a try

The holiday season can be busy and it’s all too easy to forget to take a moment for yourself. If you find your stress level skyrocketing, make a conscious choice to slow down and be mindful of how you’re spending your time.

Activities like meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help you refocus and reclaim control over your mental state. Mindfulness is a practice that places your attention on the here and now, and it can help lower stress levels.

Consider medication-assisted treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a proven method that supports recovery from addiction. MAT services combine medication with counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other therapies to treat substance abuse disorders.

If you aren’t participating in a MAT program to aid in recovery, starting therapy could increase your chances of avoiding relapse. In fact, one study reports that MAT treatment more than doubles recovering addicts’ ability to abstain from opioid use.

If you’re already in a MAT program, stick to your treatment plan throughout the holiday season. Maintain your appointments as scheduled and continue taking your medications as prescribed.

Don’t let the hustle, bustle, and stress of the holidays derail the progress you’ve made in recovery. For more tips and personalized support, contact our San Juan Capistrano, California, office or book an appointment online today.

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