Is your teen or young adult who’s gone through mental health or substance use treatment stressing out about family dynamics during the holidays? Share this blog post, which has several self-care tips to support their mental health as December winds down and New Year’s Eve approaches.
The holidays can be wonderful, and it can be great to be around family. But with the extra stressors at this time of the year, even the closest-knit families can be challenged, and drama of some sort could come up. When you add mental health and substance use issues to the mix, it can become even more challenging. However, you’ve sought treatment and worked hard to improve yourself. You have new coping tools, and the holiday season — right up through New Year’s Day — is a great time to apply what you’ve learned. So this year, when you’re home for the holidays and spending more time with your family, you can breathe. You’ve got this.
Here are six holiday self-care tips that can help you have control over your family experience:
- Manage your mental health. Your new superpower is you. While no one asks to have mental health challenges, you’ve learned how to be a better person because of your hard work. Remember during the holidays that even with everything you have going on, you need to take care of you. Get plenty of sleep, eat healthy, and exercise. The extra social engagements, changes in schedule and routine, and increased family interaction can be overwhelming, so applying what you’ve learned about staying mentally healthy is critical.
- Stay sober and clean. If you’ve struggled with substance abuse, remember that there will be more opportunities to use substances. Resist that temptation. You’ve already done more to improve yourself and overcome challenges than some people do in a lifetime, and it’s not worth throwing all of that work away for a quick fix. And by staying sober, you can have the kind of holiday fun you’ll want to remember.
- Make time for your routines. Whatever you do that helps you stay mentally healthy, keep doing it. Do you walk the dog? Go for a jog? Exercise with a friend? Or do you read, create art, listen to or play music, or play video games? Whatever you do for you that makes you happy, don’t skip it just because the holidays are here. Make time for it. Keep enjoying it.
- Avoid emotional traps. Is there anyone who gets under our skin more than family members? They know your buttons and triggers, and they’re stressed out too. You can choose how to react, though. While you don’t have control over your family, you do have control over how events affect you. You can choose your attitude each day. Show your family you’re equipped to manage the drama. Be the one everyone talks about because of the lack of drama surrounding you.
- Find time for friends. Talking to and hanging out with people who care about you — people who are part of your support network — can help you step back and take a break from family stressors. While busy schedules at this time of year can make it challenging to connect with your favorite people, keep in touch as best as you can. And remember: They’re probably dealing with family too, so they’ll appreciate your friendship and support.
- Plan or suggest new traditions. Is there something specific about the holidays that triggers you that you want to replace? Or something you wished your family could do, like have a family game night or movie night, bake cookies, or visit that place you always talked about going to? Suggest it, and show your desire to be a force for good for your family’s holiday season.
Remember, while there’s no way to control what happens at family gatherings or how other people react to stress, you can control how you react. Use the tools you’ve learned in treatment and practice self-care to nurture your mental health and deal with stressors as they arise. You can make it the best holiday season yet and enter the new year on a positive note. Who knows? You might inspire the rest of your family to do so too.