Navigating the Holiday Season Amid a Pandemic

The holiday season is upon us! Depending on the day, you may feel like 2020 has been either incredibly short or endlessly long. After months of quarantine, social distancing and isolation, we have finally made it to the days of festivity and family fun. However, as you relax with loved ones and adapt your plans for COVID-19, remember to focus on reducing stress and promoting your well-being. We would like to provide some guidance for navigating the holidays amid a pandemic.


Doing Things Differently This Holiday Season

As we discussed in our post about Thanksgiving travel, this year has mandated that we all change our plans to promote health and safety. Because of the current surge in COVID-19 cases, we strongly encourage you to be flexible with your December celebrations. This can be disappointing, but luckily, there are ways to adapt our favorite traditions for the era of coronavirus.

Host a casual, all-day Zoom. Many families enjoyed inviting their loved ones to an all-day Zoom call this Thanksgiving and plan to do so again this month. Let your friends and family know that you will be throwing a virtual fête to get in the holiday spirit. Send out a general schedule, fire up your favorite video call platform and just leave your computer open – everyone can drop in and join the party as they’re able. This can also be a way to maintain certain traditions, like tree decorating and opening presents, with people who are far away.

Take advantage of the U.S. Postal Service. While we can’t gather in person to exchange gifts, you can still send a bit of holiday cheer in the mail. Send small tokens, funny cards or heartfelt letters to the most important people in your life. This will help you to foster connection and share the love this month.

Get creative around the house. Since we’re spending an unprecedented amount of time at home, this is the perfect chance to go all-in for the holidays. Decorate your house like Clark Griswold. Try making gourmet hot chocolate. Cover your partner’s desk in gift wrap. Build your own advent calendar. Delight your children with increasingly complicated Elf on the Shelf shenanigans. The options are endless, and there’s a lot of fun to be had.


Protecting Your Sobriety in 2020

Whether it is your first or fifteenth Christmas, Hanukkah, or New Year’s in recovery, it is important to put your sobriety first in the weeks ahead. These occasions can be exciting, but they can also serve as sources of stress, anxiety and challenging social interactions.

For those who have broken the cycle of addiction, there are additional considerations for the holiday season. These include…

Being proactive about your mental health. Especially given the events of this year, it’s vital to take steps to guard against anxiety, depression and relapse during the holiday season. Make a plan for what you will do if faced with triggering people, places or things over the course of your celebrations. Create a schedule for checking in with your sponsor or attending 12-Step meetings. These measures can go a long way towards providing structure during a chaotic time of the year.

Taking care of yourself. Most of us are used to overindulging during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. It’s not uncommon to let one’s health fall by the wayside in favor of heavy meals, sugary treats and lazy days indoors. Be sure that you’re eating well, maintaining a regular sleep schedule and staying active in the weeks ahead. This will go a long way towards shoring up your mental and physical health to handle any potential obstacles.

Choosing your battles. In addition to the regular stressors created by family togetherness, 2020 is also a time of political turmoil and hot-button issues. Many people may find themselves pressured to drink alcohol or engage in arguments with family members this December. Stay strong and make the decision to put your recovery first – don’t be afraid to leave a gathering, log off of a video call or set boundaries with loved ones during the holidays. You’ll be glad you did.

Thinking about what you want. This time of year is fraught with stress about others. At any given moment, you’re probably thinking about what to get someone, when you’ll see each other again or what you’ll say to them. While it’s honorable and kind to make everyone else happy, don’t lose sight of what you really want. If you find yourself struggling to meet others’ expectations while protecting your recovery, choose your recovery every time. It must come first so that everything else does not come last.


Help for the Holidays: Addiction Treatment in Tennessee

In addition to our main campus, Cumberland Heights provides outpatient treatment services at 15 outpatient recovery centers across the state of Tennessee. If you have developed an addiction or know someone who needs help, we are standing by. Contact our admissions team for more information about our fully individualized, evidence-based addiction treatment programs.