The beginning of the fall season can be difficult for many in recovery. This time of year means shorter days, cooler weather, and the approach of the holiday season. Some in recovery can experience depressed moods, additional stress, and emotional triggers that might not be positive in nature.
Cold weather and limited daytime sunshine can bring about a form of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Reduced sunlight can disrupt serotonin and melatonin levels as well as our circadian rhythms. Results of this reduced sunlight include lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, sleeping too much, and symptoms of depression or anxiety. SAD can affect recovery through behavioral changes that might interfere with mental health treatment and can also influence social interactions. If one is feeling sad or anxious, they may withdrawal and not want to venture out to attend meetings or attend therapy sessions.
Days that are shorter means less daylight and autumn and winter weather can sometimes make travel more difficult. An individual may not be able to drive at night or not feel comfortable driving in snow or rain. Autumn and winter months can also trigger memories of drinking warm alcoholic beverages by a fire or drinking to celebrate the autumn and winter holidays.
The holidays are an exceptionally difficult time for those in recovery. The holidays may bring up memories from childhood or painful memories due to the loss of a loved one at Thanksgiving or Christmas. There are many festive occasions that occur during the fall and winter months including Halloween and New Year’s Eve. These occasions involve parties where alcohol and other drugs might be present. Workplace events and sporting events also increase this time of year, which can present challenges to the recovering addict.
Recovering addicts should prepare themselves this time of year with additional resources and support. One of the first things an addict should do is simply be aware that this time of year can be difficult. Awareness is the opposite of neglect. Through awareness, you can address your feelings and deal with them in appropriate ways. Recovering addicts should ask for additional support during this time of year. Ask someone to drive you to meetings or talk to a family member about painful holiday memories. Find parties that do not involve alcohol or drugs or have your own non-alcoholic party. You are under no obligation to attend any social event during the holidays that puts you at risk. You can also attend additional 12-step meetings or ask your mental health professional if you can have an extra session per month during this time of year.
The holidays do not have to be a difficult time for you. Ask your Personal Recovery Assistant at Hired Power for additional support and help. Call now (800) 910-9299.
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