Sobriety and Holiday Well-being Tips
Sober Holidays During COVID-19
• Socially Distanced Holiday Season Stress Management • COVID-19 Stress Management Tips
• Stress Reduction with Conscious Breathing
• Dr. Andrew Weil, How to Do the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique, Video
• Resources for Reducing COVID-19 Stress
• Resources for Reducing #WFH Stress • Coping With Spending the Holidays Alone
• Alcohol Free Winter Holiday Drinks • Uncovering Holiday Myths and Adjusting Expectations
• Holiday Sobriety Planning Tips • Using Mindfulness to Maintain Emotional Balance
Christmas COVID-19 Stress and Anxiety Management
What a year 2020 has been!
With ‘stay at home’ orders in place – this holiday season this year will definitely be different. And although it will take some thought and planning to create new holiday traditions with social distancing – we can reduce stress and anxiety! We will get through this extremely challenging time – together.
Socially Distanced Holiday Season Stress Management
Due to the COVID-19 virus, there now is enormous uncertainty and stress in almost every area of life. Feeling some level of stress or anxiety in uncertain times is healthy because it helps individuals protect themselves.
However, too much stress can manifest in unhealthy ways. Interrupted sleep, difficulty with daily tasks and interfering with concentration are common stress reactions.
Experiencing issues with mental health and/or substance abuse this holiday season? Call New Start Recovery Solutions at 866-303-6275 for a confidential consultation.
But that does not mean that we have to be overwhelmed by stress and anxiety.
Taking steps to create a personal environment that includes activities that promote health and well-being is essential. We all know that it is important to stay healthy – physically and mentally. Now is the time to strongly focus on positive lifestyle activities and establishing healthy personal routines.
COVID-19 stress can disturb sleeping patterns and emotional stability. The anxiety generated contributes to irritability and can cause emotional outbursts or depression.
“There are data to indicate people are drinking more than usual,” said substance abuse researcher Dr. Mariann Piano in the American Heart Association News. “And there’s no question that drinking too much every day leads to an increase in health risks.”
For many, these factors are leading to an increase in the use of alcohol or other drugs.
Please do not hesitate to contact New Start Recovery Solutions if you are experiencing issues with mental health and/or substance abuse.
COVID-19 Stress Management Tips
• Stay physically safe from the virus; physical distancing, hand washing and mask wearing.
• Focus on what you can control. Create and follow new healthy daily routines.
• Avoid the endless COVID-19 news clickbait headlines and speculation.
• Good nutrition and eating well are important.
• Make exercise a part of the daily routine.
• Eliminate alcohol or drugs as anxiety self-medication.
• Walking is great basic exercise – and it gets you outdoors.
• Work from Home comfortably. (See WFH Resources below).
• Stay Connected and get social support from friends, family and support groups.
• Give support to friends, family and in support groups.
• Be extra kind to yourself. This is a hard time for everyone.
• Practice Mindfulness, Meditation and Conscious Breathing.
• Maintain a healthy lifestyle and get back into a daily routine.
Stress Reduction with Conscious Breathing
Dr. Andrew Weil believes Conscious Breathing can be a useful tool for achieving a calmer mental or physical state.
As the Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh said:
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
When feeling stressed during the day – take two minutes for a Conscious Breaking Break. The 4-7-8 Breath (also known as the Relaxing Breath) is a quick and portable stress antidote. It puts the practitioner in a relaxed state almost immediately. As Dr. Weil demonstrates in the video below – it takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere.
Dr. Andrew Weil – How to Do the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique
Resources for Reducing COVID-19 Stress
Emotional Well-Being and Coping During COVID-19 – from UC San Francisco
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times – Book, by Pema Chödrön
How can we live our lives when everything seems to fall apart and when we are continually overcome by fear, anxiety, and pain?
Resources for Reducing WFH Stress
9 Tips To Be Productive When Working At Home During COVID-19 – from Forbes.com
Working From Home: 5 Environmental Factors Affecting Your Well-Being – from Purdue University
Coping With the COVID-19 Holiday Season Alone
Spending time alone this holiday season is not a personal failure. Being alone for the holidays is a statement about the current environment – not your ability or your worth.
For many, spending Christmas alone will be the safest option to avoid COVID-19. Although some will choose to travel as safely as possible during the holidays – others will determine that holiday travel is just not safe this year. Anyone who usually plans to travel home to visit family (especially older relatives) should plan to skip holiday travel.
Let’s look at some steps to make spending holidays alone this year more enjoyable.
• Self-compassion, gratitude, and positive affirmations are important for emotional balance.
• Remember those annoying relatives? You won’t be spending time with them. (Bonus!)
• Keep in touch with friends and family. Use video calling, Zoom or phone calls.
• Create new traditions – virtually.
• Consider game nights, bad sweater contests, white elephant gifting or caroling via video calls.
• Drive-by Christmas light viewing is fun!
• Indulge in Self-Care.
• Attend Online Groups and Meetings.
• Listen to Recovery or Inspirational Podcasts
• Focus on Healthy Routines and Nutrition.
• Create a daily activities list and keep it as full as possible.
• Create a Gratitude List.
• Try to spend at least 10 minutes outside daily.
• Consider becoming a plant parent. Why Indoor Plants Make You Feel Better
• If you have SAD, invest in a Light Therapy Box. Best Light Therapy Lamp, Reviews
• Reach out if you need help. If substance abuse is an issue, call us at 866-303-6275
Alcohol Free Winter Holiday Drinks
Winter holiday drinks can be fun, festive and warming – all without alcohol!
The drinks below are examples of alcohol-free mocktails. More special than a soda or iced tea – these drinks will not leave you with relationship regrets or a hangover.
Uncovering Holiday Myths and Adjusting Expectations
It would be fair to say that many Americans experience a collective cultural ‘mythology’ during the month of December. Unrealistic expectations can be an especially serious issue for veterans returning home. It is important to know and understand potential stumbling blocks before encountering them.
Learn to recognize your holiday stress triggers, such as financial pressures, frustrations or personal demands – so that you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown.
Common Holiday Unrealistic Beliefs
Myth #1: Holidays are a time of joy – and everyone is happy.
Myth #2: Everyone can eat and drink as much as they want and never suffer ill effects.
Myth #3: Frustrations and exhaustion due to the holidays do not exist. Children will not cry or act up, significant others will finally understand us completely, we will not run out of tape and wrapping paper at the worst possible moment – and we will get that last parking space.
Myth #4: I can interact with family and relatives that always upset me. But due to a ‘Christmas Miracle’ – there will be no ill feeling and all long-standing issues will be happily resolved.
Takeaway: LIFE HAPPENS
• Frustrations will occur – even in holiday seasons.
• Don’t sweat the small stuff.
• And for larger issues – be patient with yourself.
• Work on mindfully handling issues.
Getting Real – and Happy – During the Holidays
Holidays can be stressful – but they are not destined to be depressing. It is vitally important to have a Sobriety Plan.
Holiday Sobriety Planning Tips
- Make a firm determination and resolve to remain Sober.
- Have Strategies and a Plan for Relapse Prevention in Place; know potential obstacles.
- Use Mindfulness to stay in the present moment.
- Attend support group meetings.
- If family gatherings are too stressful – attend support group meetings and/or spend time with supportive friends.
- Remember self care: Check H.A.L.T. – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.
- Mindfully acknowledge and work with emotions – do not ‘bury’ unpleasant emotions.
- Allow yourself to have Real Fun – Sober. Create new sober holiday traditions.
- Give Thanks: Implement Gratitude as an Attitude whenever possible.
- Sobriety is the Priority. (And have a back-up plan in place).
Using Mindfulness to Maintain Emotional Balance
What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is having the internal focus to be quietly aware of your own thoughts and impulses – without judgment and without acting on the impulses.
Studies have shown that alterations in brain and immune function are produced by mindfulness meditation. With mindfulness practice, new neural networks are created in the brain.
Mindfulness meditation research shows that Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention is effective. Study results find that mindfulness interrupts reactive behaviors and encourages thoughtful and skillful responses to relapse triggers.
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