All posts by Karen Broad

It’s no secret that along with the happy times of the Christmas holidays, we are all guilty of over committing time, over spending, and placing excessive demands on ourselves to make the holiday great. In the end, all of these can lead to causing you stress and anxiety during a time when you should be enjoying peace and joy. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and with the right approach and preparation, you can keep it all in check so this Christmas you’ll be decking the halls, walking in a winter wonderland, and bringing joy to the world…with laughter and fun.

Top 10 ways to keeping stress and anxiety out of your life during the holidays:
1. Plan ahead
Set aside a few days for shopping, and plan your baking day in advance. Plan your meal, and get your grocery shopping done in advance. If you’ve delegated some chores, post the schedule where everyone can see it so the expectations are clear to everyone about when to complete their tasks. Communication is key!
2. Take a breather
Amid all of the chaos, allow yourself some serenity. Quiet time for a bath, to catch up with a girlfriend, or go see a movie. It is your time to do what your really enjoy, and it will mean you come back to the holiday duties more refreshed and with a clear head.
3. Stick to a budget
An avalanche of gift will not buy happiness. In fact, in the end it leaves you with more stress if you’ve racked up bills that you will struggle to pay. Decide beforehand what your budget is for gifts and food, and stick to it! When you know it’s in control, you’ll feel comfortable with your purchases and the bills that will result.
4. Say NO!
Saying no does not make you selfish. The reality is, you can’t please everyone all of the time. It’s ok to say no to the neighbour’s party, or the trip out of town on the weekend to see old friends. You need to be realistic about how much you can do, and take into account time for yourself to relax. if it’s absolutely impossible to say no to something, consider if there are other less important things you can give up in exchange.
5. Accept what you can’t change
There are just some things you can’t change, like family members that just don’t get along. Adult children that can’t make it to Christmas this year. When things start to stress you out, pause to think about whether it can be changed, or if it’s out of your control. If it just can’t be changed, finding acceptance will give you peace . Then focus on something that does bring you joy, like taking family photographs, doing some Christmas baking, or taking a long hot bath.
6. Stop doing things that sap your time and make you more stressed.
Do a gift exchange to cut down on Christmas shopping. Buy a pre-made gingerbread it instead of baking it from scratch. Maybe this year you just plan to buy a centrepiece rather than making it yourself. Shortcuts are OK! Find a few that will free up some time for what you really enjoy doing.
7. Keep active & maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Eat well, exercise, get a good night’s rest and keep the alcohol intake under control. The holidays shouldn’t be an excuse to overindulge in sugary & fatty foods, alcohol, or stopping your fitness routine. In fact you need that more than ever! You’ll feel stronger and more in control if you fuel your body with good rather than junk. And a bad hangover certainly will put a damper on your Christmas cheer! Don’t regret your actions.
8. Be realistic & delegate
When people take on a heavy load of responsibilities, often it can lead to resentment and exhaustion. Ease up your load and be realistic about what you can accomplish. Let go of your need to control everything and turn some tasks over to family members- including the kids! Have them set the table, or do the vacuuming before everyone arrives. If you’re worried about the napkins being set on the wrong side of the plate or someone missing a fork… see #5 below.
9. Don’t try to create a fairytale
Don’t pin your happiness on perfection. The stress that results from your own demands on yourself are in your control! Trying to achieve a Martha Stewart table, and a TV perfect family gathering isn’t reality. Striving to do things well is OK, but don’t expect perfection. The fairytale is in your head, not in everyone else’s. They really aren’t heartbroken if the turkey turned out a little bit dry or there were some lumps in the mashed potatoes.
10. Focus on gratitude
Never underestimate the power of gratitude to bring a feeling of peace to any situation. When you are feeling overwhelmed, stop and think of something you are grateful for. A warm house, a family that is together for another holiday, and food on the table. We all have something to be grateful for, and you probably don’t have to dig very deep to find some.

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Managing Grief During Addiction Recovery

Grief is expected when you lose a loved one. What isn’t always expected is that when you decide to make a positive change in your life and conquer addiction … along with it comes a feeling of loss and grief.  It’s a strange phenomenon. Instead of your mind rewarding you with a feeling of excitement and support for your good decision, you are instead faced with sadness that can sometimes bring you to tears. If you are just starting your road to recovery, you probably are fully relating to what I’m talking about. If you’re not quite started on your journey, listen up because it most certainly should be something you can and should prepare for during addiction recovery.

Chances are your addiction has caused you considerable loss. Perhaps it is your friends, family, finances, or even your morals and values have suffered a blow. Despite the losses, for some reason your mind still envisions your substance or activity of choice as a means to comfort rather than the cause of the destruction. Now that it’s gone, grief has set in. Preparing to recognize, accept and respond to your grief in different facets of your life will greatly contribute to your success, and help to limit the effects.

You’ve just lost a good friend. Your ‘friend’ was your substance or activity of choice, and they are no longer a part of your life.. Expect some sadness, and a feeling of mourning your loss. It is something that you relied upon for comfort or was a means to cope with difficulty. To your mind it was a friend, and you no longer have this friend to lean on for comfort.

Your routine, lifestyle and social circle has disappeared. Many areas of your daily life have likely just changed, and people can be naturally resistant to change. Your after work activities, the people you socialized with on the weekend, or places you used to go may no longer be a part of your new lifestyle. The ‘hobbies’ you may have had or how you ‘blew off steam’ are no longer there for you. There will be a feeling of uncertainty or emptiness until new patterns has been established.

Lack of familiarity with who you are. There may be a feeling of not knowing exactly who you are anymore, or what you even enjoy in life. How do you get pleasure? How do you celebrate achievements or special events? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Your personal identity has suffered a blow, and until it is redefined you may experience a loss of your sense of self.

Losses resulting from your addiction. As your new sober reality sets in, it may come to light that due to addiction you have lost some things that you once loved. It may be your family, connection to your children, your job, financial security, or your health. These are all harsh discoveries to the newly sober addict, and rightfully so, there will be sadness when you take inventory on your losses due to addiction.

So, what now? Will the sadness ever go away? The good news is, absolutely! But just like any grieving process, you will need to accept the changes and work through the pain.  New patterns, hobbies, and friendships will be formed over time. Expecting some grief, and proactively working through the grieving process in a healthy way will help to solidify your long term recovery goals. Having a counsellor or support person trained to providing techniques to minimize the pain and move towards recovery will be a great help.

My world class “Recovery In The Now” Addiction Treatment Program offers support and coaching from the comfort of your home via phone, skype, and email. You don’t need to ‘white knuckle’ it alone through your recovery. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, please reach out.

Warren Broad
Creator of the Recovery In The Now Program for Addiction Recovery

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