The holidays are a mixture of nostalgia, anticipation, and stress. Like last year, many are still coping with the uncertainty of Coronavirus (COVID-19); however, due to the pandemic and the need to decrease stress, festivities will look different while people find healthy and safe ways to celebrate the season.
The impact the global pandemic continues to have on the world is vast. Before the holidays began, people were trying to work out how to get together with loved ones to socialize. Now that the holidays are here, many are searching for healthy alternatives to in-person festivities. Regardless of an individual’s personal choices, those immunocompromised or worried about catching COVID-19 may voice concern about gatherings. In addition, your clients may report distress, loneliness, anxiety, or depression as specific holiday celebrations approach. Encouraging them to discuss and plan how they envision their holiday season can help them feel in control while decreasing their harmful feelings.
COVID-19 has created a unique set of circumstances, especially for holiday celebrations. However, creating boundaries and communicating them to others presents a challenge. How can your client discuss their needs if they don’t know what they are?
Some clients may be celebrating sober for the first time this year. Others may attend events a year or more after they go through a substance addiction program. The prospect of being around people and situations where alcohol or drugs like marijuana are available is daunting. The pandemic created a buffer from going to festivities and interacting with loved ones who may not be aware of your client’s sobriety. As a result, they may experience emotions like anxiety or depression. People ignore or fail to read the room when it comes to others’ boundaries. While discussing any feelings about attending a gathering, take the time to discuss what your client is or isn’t comfortable telling others. Also, ask them what they want from family and friends. Guiding your clients towards recognizing their comfort zone and limits is integral.
If your client doesn’t have boundaries, they may not know how to set them. Limitations reflect what is essential to your client as they have priorities when engaging with others. For example, if your client is new to sobriety, they may not know how to avoid drinking. You can create a plan that works for your client. There are several ways to avoid talking about or explaining why your client isn’t drinking. Also, let them know their comfort is essential. Help them formulate an escape plan. Leaving a party or exiting a conversation is perfectly acceptable.
Letting others know their limits creates uncertainty about how others will react. Don’t let your client be hindered by having an awkward conversation with their loved ones. Discussions that occur before an event can help decrease awkward moments or hurt feelings.
Reason for the Season
Besides setting boundaries and keeping an open dialogue with loved ones, your client can step back and think about why they celebrate a specific holiday. Ask them what does the holiday means to them. Take a good look at what your client finds meaningful. Festivities and gatherings may increase their anxiety or depression, but what if your client focuses on their importance?
Holiday traditions combine family and culture. For example, many cultures incorporate special meals and rituals to show their attachment to a particular holiday. However, sometimes these rituals have aspects that can make your client uncomfortable. Identifying and finding ways to communicate discomfort, boundaries, or options to the habit can help your client.
There are times when holiday traditions can be harmful to your client’s well-being. You can discuss ways to replace these traditions with rituals that resonate with them. Have your client research how other cultures or people celebrate the holidays. Once your client identifies traditions that align with their core values, guide them to mapping out how to implement those traditions into their life. Holiday traditions aren’t concrete; changing how a person celebrates can create a stronger bond with the holiday and decrease negative emotions.
Joy comes in many forms. For example, following the suggestions above can increase your client’s ability to find joy during the holiday season. Or maybe your client knows what brings them joy and seeks guidance in implementing a tradition.
Your client’s reason for the season is what clears the path to comfort or delight. Unfortunately, people are often distracted by the obligations and responsibilities that come with the holiday season. Spending time discussing what makes them happy opens up the possibility to improve things. Finding joy means being creative, setting boundaries, stepping out of everyday routines, and discovering what’s important.
Obligations add to the stress of the holiday season. Festivities with loved ones may continue to look different this year. Some may be gathering with those who aren’t aware of their newfound sobriety or another life-changing event. Clients who want to limit particular questions or interactions benefit from knowing their boundaries. Through healthy conversations with their loved ones, they can set guidelines. Your client also has the opportunity to remove or replace certain holiday traditions. During COVID-19 or substance addiction treatment, people’s core values shift. For them, the need to reflect this change can result in new, healthy traditions. Alta Centers helps people discover their core values to live healthy, substance-free lives. We recognize change takes a lot, so we guide our clients to find out what is important to them and reflect their beliefs and values. Alta Centers, located next to the Hollywood sign, provides hope for a healthy future. For more information, call (888) 202-2583.