Five Ways to Embrace Recovery at Family Gatherings
Home for the holidays means different things to different people. For many of us, it means resorting back to our younger self when we were living under our parent’s roof. We tend to revert back to our childhood roles, even if these roles were dysfunctional and never served us well.
As a result, the holidays tend to trigger feelings of pain, longing, sadness, and resentment. The good news is that even though we can’t undo our past, we can move forward with positive coping skills that allow us to embrace recovery. It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that most of these coping skills involve setting and maintaining healthy boundaries. What sounds like a simple concept can be quite challenging if we don’t make this a year-round practice. Unfortunately, boundaries don’t happen on demand. It’s a process that requires effort. No one is going to set boundaries for us (at least to our advantage), so we need to be diligent about putting them into practice through practice.
On that note, here are five tools to store in your recovery toolbox for the holiday season - and for the rest of your life.
- Map Quest: Instead of marching into family gatherings without a roadmap, it’s wise to troubleshoot what typically goes awry and explore viable coping strategies. Work with your support network to figure out the best ways to handle potential conflicts and be willing to put your recovery first. Getting input from supportive friends or sponsors may shed an entirely different light on what initially seemed like dire situations. Keep the numbers of your sponsor and other go-to people on speed dial, so you always have a healthy dose of support on hand.
- Pencil it In: It may initially sound counterintuitive during the holidays to bump up the number of meetings you attend; ramp up your meditation practice; and boost visits to the gym, but it’s actually the ideal time to do so. Self-care is more critical than ever during what many people deem to be the most stressful time of year. We need to nourish our body, mind, and soul now more than ever. It’s easy to drop our routine when the going gets tough, but it’s actually the best time to reinforce the hard work you’ve done on the road to recovery. So, get out your meeting list, tie up your laces, and just say OM.
- Set Your Timer: If you find it difficult to go to the movies with your mother-in-law, you may want to reconsider your offer to spend an entire week with her over the holidays. Be clear about how much time you’re willing to spend at any given family gathering. It’s a good idea to stay as long as you’re enjoying the company and can appreciate the people in attendance for who they are – shortcomings and all. It’s time to make a graceful exit when you’re mentally fixated on trying to “fix” a room full of relatives.
- First Things First: In certain cases, showing up for family gatherings right now might not be a feasible option. As I’m sure you’ve heard in your air travels, you must first put on your own oxygen mask before you can assist others (hopefully, you’ll never need to literally experience these instructions). It’s wise to be brutally honest about what you need in the way of self-care to function at even a baseline level. If you prematurely put yourself in risky situations, you put yourself in danger of a relapse – whether to alcohol, drugs, food, depression or anything else. This is especially critical for anyone new to recovery who may potentially be surrounded by liquor, drugs, and trigger foods at family gatherings. There’s nothing wrong with explaining that family gatherings aren’t something you can partake in right now, but that you’re not ruling it out forever. Say what you mean, but don’t say it mean.
- Be Greatful: Remind yourself of all the blessings and great things you do have in your life. For many of us, there’s still hope that some family members will take the recovery route. Just like the traditions state, it’s a program of attraction rather than promotion. If we show up to family gatherings – and to life – healthy, grateful, and vibrant, we’ll be able to extend a loving hand to family members who want what we have, As long as we’re alive, there’s always hope for a shining future. It’s never too late to reinvent our destiny and realize our greatest dreams.
Through an array of time-tested modalities, we’ll give you tools to develop healthy relationships - with the most important of these relationships being with yourself. The tools you’ll acquire will be instrumental for the rest of your life – and your family’s life, too. Feel free to call The Meadows Intake Team at 800-244-4949 or Contact Us online. We’re here for you and your loved ones as you embark on your journey of recovery. Our goal is to see you and your family thrive and prosper. So, take the first step to a new way of life. You’re worth it!