The holidays are a time where there is so much to do, but never enough time to do it all. Joyful or not, there are demands placed on your time, energy, finances, and other resources by family, friends, work, and more. You may feel emotionally challenged by negative stressors and simply need time to take care of yourself. This becomes even more important when you are in recovery, as stress is one of the major contributors to relapse. How can you set boundaries around the holidays with all of these challenges?
Your Time is Precious to Your Recovery
As a woman, you may be tasked with keeping up your home, family, and your career, all of which require extra time during the holiday season. There may be additional family and social engagements, shopping, food preparation, travel plans, and more that extend beyond your already busy schedule.
These additional demands upon your time can put your recovery in jeopardy, not just because of the different stressors, but also because they infringe upon the time you need each day to be still, sleep, and take care of your mind, body, and spirit. Your time is very literally precious to your recovery and needs to be protected like you would protect anything else in your life that is precious to you.
Setting Boundaries With Family During the Holidays
Families can be a source of positive or negative stress during the holiday season, but often there are those family members who want more from you—more of your time, more of your energy, more of your other resources. In some families, dysfunction or substance abuse may trigger you and should be avoided, but how do you say no to family at the holidays?
The answer is to simply say no. Say no to requests for time or anything else you are not comfortable with, especially if you are wary of triggering a relapse. This can be very difficult, particularly in cultures where family is prioritized, and saying no is not a culturally acceptable option. However, if they genuinely love you and want the opportunity to spend time with you in the future, they will come to understand that you need to protect your recovery at all costs. Sometimes, that price is time with them and other family members during the holidays.
How to Set Boundaries With Acquaintances
Setting boundaries with coworkers or more casual acquaintances may actually be more complicated than family. You may not feel comfortable verbalizing why you cannot attend a social event with a lot of alcohol, or overspend or otherwise overextend yourself or your resources. The why is not as important as the setting of the boundary. Even if the invitations really appeal to you, your recovery depends upon you being able and willing to set boundaries throughout your life.
Protecting Your Mental and Physical Health
The holiday season is not worth compromising your mental or physical health. Being vigilant about taking care of yourself with good daily habits like sleep, nutrition, and mindfulness are more critical than ever at this time of the year. In fact, you may need to schedule more time for yourself to counterbalance all of the stress on both your mind and body. This is also true for people who feel alone or lonely at this time or are prone to depression. Caring for yourself is crucial.
Planning and preparing for what you can ahead of time will help you avoid some of the last-minute stress. For example, if you have a holiday shopping list, take care of it sooner rather than later, perhaps in small increments, and don’t forget to plan time to wrap gifts as well. Planning like this will help you avoid stressors like being caught in traffic and crowds, as well as staying up late to complete your tasks at the last minute.
Committing Your Holiday Season to Your Recovery
The holiday season is a typical time for those in recovery to relapse. The fact that there tend to be more substances, usually alcohol, available than usual is only one reason. The stresses on your time and other resources contribute perhaps even more to your risk of relapse.
Commit yourself to your recovery as your main priority this holiday season, ahead of any traditions or celebrations. Make plans and stick to them. Set your boundaries, and be realistic about what you can and cannot do with your time and other resources. You will be able to ring in the New Year with sobriety, good health, and peace.
How can you set boundaries around the holidays? By planning ahead, being protective of your time and other resources, and committing yourself to your recovery. Being willing to put your recovery ahead of everything and everyone else will help you make and keep boundaries to protect your recovery this year. The Ho Tai Way – Recovery For Women is committed to teaching women how to heal from substance abuse and how to set and maintain boundaries to avoid relapse. Our trauma-informed care helps you learn to be still and comfortable with yourself and find peace in your life. We apply the principles of prosperity, wealth, joy, and abundance to recovery, allowing you to live to your potential and receive these gifts in your life. Contact us today at (714) 581-3974 to learn more about our programs, including our She Recovers women’s support group for women in any type of recovery.