Tame holiday stress before it starts

Tame holiday stress before it starts

“I am struck by the simplicity of light in the atmosphere in the autumn, as if the Earth absorbed none, and out of this profusion of dazzling light came the autumnal tints.” — Henry David Thoreau


Are you starting to notice all the red, green and sparkle at the store? We haven’t even finished Thanksgiving plans yet but retailers are already reminding us that the most stressful time of the year is upon us. I suppose the shops are being helpful so we’re not waiting until the last minute (and getting more stressed!) but still…

It’s not a secret that November and December can be tough for those in addiction recovery.

First, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of the holidays and the quest for “more.” Then, family gatherings may trigger memories of parties and how good it felt for you to become lost in your substance of choice.

Before the Christmas tunes become a daily experience while grocery-shopping or listening to the radio, you need to take the time to prepare yourself emotionally for the holidays. This is a good time to think about how you can simplify your plans, focus on the joy and spirit of the season — and, most importantly, take a deep breath and relax.

I’ll admit this may be easier said than done, considering that even the weather doesn’t cooperate. After being spoiled by the sun for four or five beautiful months, the gray skies can be a bit of a downer.

Remember when, as a child, you’d rush through a pile of colorful leaves just so you can watch them swirl and fall back to the ground? Or, maybe you even managed to find one of those enormous piles and dive into it, squirming with pleasure?

The memories of those moments bring a smile to my face. It’s those kinds of life’s simple delights that can help us through tough, stressful times.

You need to find opportunities to slow down and relish in those moments, and at the same time, look for ways to create new holiday memories. What will you and your family remember more in a few years, that shiny, expensive gift you spent a lot of energy hunting for, your spotless house and the delicious turkey or ham — or will they remember how you laughed together and spent time doing something you all enjoyed?

If you look at the holidays differently, in terms of what really is important rather than in search for more, it’s easier to escape the whirlwind that our culture creates around this season. Keep practicing your holistic routines to keep your body, mind and spirit strong and remember, creating traditions is about sharing love with others. You don’t need a shopping and gift-wrapping marathon to do that.