DARIEN, Conn. -- The holiday season is here, and with it come celebration, family gatherings and good food. However, this time of year can be particularly difficult and stressful for those recovering from mental health disorders or substance abuse. Thankfully, families can take steps to stay balanced and positive during this busy time.
Here are Newport Academy's three keys to having a healthy and happy holiday.
Follow Your Usual Routines
The holiday season often comes with a to-do list that includes shopping, cooking, entertaining and traveling to visit family members. Consequently, many people may be tempted to skip their usual self-care routines. However, it’s important to stick with your daily and weekly rituals. "These daily routines might include exercise, meditation or time in nature," said Kristin Wilson, director of clinical outreach at Newport Academy, a teen treatment center. "All of those things enhance our well-being and stress resilience. Thus, it’s essential that we don’t let them go during the holidays."
Integrate Healthy Activities
A delicious meal is often the centerpiece of the holiday. However, the focus on alcohol at holiday gatherings can be a trigger for those in recovery. Therefore, families don’t have to make food and drink the only focus when getting together. "Getting outside and spending time in nature has multiple positive benefits," said Wilson. "Instead of lingering inside, get everyone outside for a game, a hike or even some yard work. It might take a little nudging, but it’s worth it."
Make Mindfulness Part of the Holiday
Making an effort to slow down and appreciate this time of year will actually help family members enjoy it more. Mindfulness has numerous positive effects on well-being. "Research shows that gratitude enhances our happiness levels," said Wilson. "Gratitude can even help us sleep better and live longer. We can benefit by expressing gratitude through personal exchanges, gratitude meditation or a heartfelt grace before a big meal."
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