Why Christmas is Hell on My Recovery

 why-christmas-is-hell-on-my-recovery

“I hate Christmas…”

___

I have heard that a lot these days. I think that people hate the season for a bunch of reasons:

  • The season has lost it’s meaning and today it is merely unabashed materialism
  • We feel obligated to attend every Christmas function that people can dream up
  • It reminds us about our families and that can sometimes be painful
  • We remember the people and the relationships that we have lost
  • Religion and Jesus are everywhere
  • Every damned commercial is about Christmas and selling crap
  • Santa is just another form of a scary-clown
  • Food, booze, parties, over-spending and over-consumption are expected

What do you think about Christmas?

For me, Christmas is a major trigger. Food and alcohol are everywhere and there is tremendous social pressure to attend social events where overeating and drinking is normal. I have less of a struggle with alcohol, but food can be a major trigger for me. It is how I cope with my stress, my social anxiety, my depression and pretty much anything else.

I am well into my mental health recovery, but the Christmas season comes at the peak of an unholy food-binge trinity for me:

  1. Thanksgiving
  2. Halloween
  3. Christmas

Christmas is hell on my recovery

I love the glittery lights, the snow and the presents. It reminds me of a lifetime of good memories and family who loved me. But for me, the season is basically one gigantic relapse just waiting to happen.

I love the glittery lights, the snow and the presents. It reminds me of a lifetime of good memories and family who loved me. But for me, the season is basically one gigantic relapse just waiting to happen.

It can sometimes seem easier to just avoid the whole thing, or to become a cynic and mock all of it from the sidelines.

The temptations seem to be everywhere, but this year I am experimenting with something different. I am going to be more honest with myself and the people in my life about my triggers. The reality is that for most of us, the season creates Santa sized triggers that we grapple with.

That’s an image that you don’t often see: Grappling with Santa.

Your Santa-Belly

Most of us assume that we put on about 7-10 pounds over Christmas, but in reality for most people it is around 1-2 pounds. 

The average person will gain around 1-2 pounds per year, this means that most of our yearly weight creep happens at the holiday season. Food, booze, staying indoors, and just sitting around are the culprits for our seasonal Santa-bellies.

Being sedentary and over-indulging for a few weeks will add inches to your waist line and could lay waist to your mental health:

  • You will ruminate more about your life
  • You will tend to feel down on yourself because you are less active
  • You will compensate for your feelings by eating more or drinking more
  • You will feel more anxious and depressed

This post is probably a little depressing. Sometimes reality can be a shock to the system.

Sorry if this post is a downer. But there is an upside to all of this. Being honest about our triggers is a sure way to prepare for them.

This year, my wife gave me an Advent Beer calendar. It is an interesting juxtaposition to have Advent Beer. It’s like the angels got together with a few devils and made a deal… or like having some happy Santa-Scrooge cookies. The two just don’t mix.

My doctor reminded me of two inconsolable facts about my newly acquired beer-a-day habit: Drinking every day will add a lot of calories (about 1-2 pounds just in beer alone over the month) and alcohol is a depressant.

So, I started a food journal and decided that my Advent Beers need to gather a little dust for right now. Awareness will do that… it will make you think about your decisions and the impacts on your life.

Life can become frantic and that makes us less aware of our vulnerabilities. One of the best things that you and I can do for our mental health and our recovery is to be intentional and make time to slow down.

This gets to the heart of another of the major triggers at Christmas: the damned-crazy pace. Life can become frantic and that makes us less aware of our vulnerabilities. One of the best things that you and I can do for our mental health and our recovery is to be intentional and make time to slow down.

How do you cope with the pressures of the Holiday/Christmas/New Years season?

It might be just sitting by the Christmas tree, using a food and/or booze log, journalling, talking to a good friend or being mindful to regularly get outside. Whatever you do to reflect will help you to be more conscious.

I hope you are well this season. I would love to hear from you about your seasonal survival tips in the comments section.

If you enjoyed this post, you will enjoy some of my other writing:

How to Make Peace with Your Addiction and Mental Illness?

The Weight of Living: Mental Health and Faith

A Year with Clinical Depression has made Me a Better Man

I write articles about wellness, leadership, parenting and personal growth. My hope is to deliver the best content I can to inspire, to inform and to entertain. Sign up for my blog if you want to receive the latest and best of my writing.

Lastly, if you like my writing or even if you hate it, you can click here to vote for my page on Psych Central’s list of mental health blogs.

Keep it Real
Previously published by smswaby on the Good Men Project

Photo by Richard Elzey

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Why Christmas is Hell on My Recovery

  1. I dread Christmas because of the inherent pressure to be visibly joyous; the slew of alcohol; the temptation to sloth and the mindless consumerism. I am also in recovery from a serious depressive episode, but Christmas leaves me on the precipice of a relapse. I love your blogs, they have helped me understand some of my own thought patterns gratly

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fowler01,
      Well said. There are a great deal of triggers at this season. It is expected that we overdo it, in every area of our lives. My doctor reminded me that the first two weeks of January are about recovery for all of us. Our credit cards tell me that it can take months to recover from the season. That says to me that our culture puts a great deal of pressure to overindulge.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my blog. I hope you are well.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s