It’s the Holiday season and you just began your recovery. You have been putting a few tactics to work in dealing with your friends and family, you’re beginning to recognize some of your triggers and are hopefully connecting with others in Recovery but you’re not quite at ease just yet.
You might be fine one moment, just to have someone anger you the next. Your sleeping patterns have you coo-coo! since you’re having a hard time tossing and turning all night. You’re overly emotional with the thoughts of how you have affected your loved ones over the years and your spilled coffee at the office has you in tears. You keep respectfully turning down your old friends who keep forgetting that you don’t drink or do drugs anymore which bums you out and there are times when you find yourself mentally all over the place.
If you have any symptoms that are really distressing you, and you really can no longer deal with them on your own, then it would be a good idea to see a medical professional regarding this. It’s not uncommon that sleep, appetite and mood patterns end up in disarray after we stop using drugs and alcohol.
You spent X years putting all kinds of foreign substances into your body which assisted your brain in producing crazy amounts of dopamine, serotonin and all of these other natural chemicals by the boatloads and now, that ain’t happenin. I’m not a doctor nor a scientist, but for the sake of keeping it simple, I like to relate to it as follows: I’ve been putting tons of sugar on an apple every time I eat one. Now that I’m not adding any sugar to the apple, my brain is telling me that it’s nasty and it needs sugar, when in reality it’s really sweet on its own. It may remind you of putting sugar in cereal or hot chocolate. I’m certain you can find a few of your own examples.
Your mind might be aching for that substance, you may be experiencing cravings and your body might be at a dis-ease. You might think that you’re uncomfortable in your own skin. I want to let you know that this is absolutely normal.
Hang in there. You have made it this far, so using will just set the whole cycle in motion once again. There never was “just one”, remember? How long has it been for you now? Just think about how hard it was to stop for this amount of time. It’s likely that you may not even recall the last time you did, and if you do, I would like you to think about what it was like when you resumed use. Did you pick up right where you started? Did you engage the TURBO function? (Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” is amazingly appropriate here since it is about addiction.. genius!) The point is that it’s MUCH easier to stay stopped than it is to STOP.
One thing to be mindful of, especially during the holidays, is what you’re eating. Replacing one negative behavior with another is extremely easy to do and you won’t even see it coming.
We’ll dive deeper into nutrition in another post, but meanwhile, just be mindful of the amount of sweets, carbs, starches, fried foods and other not so healthy choices. You might love Aunt Rosie’s lasagna and bacon biscuits so go ahead and have some. Just be mindful of how much your having and you’ll both be happy! Otherwise, find healthy alternatives to things. More fruits and fresh vegetables never hurt anyone and you can eat plenty. Sugars and salt will cause you turmoil so try to reduce/minimize their intake. Gracefully declining that bag of leftover Christmas cookies will ensure that you don’t eat them all in two sittings (if not one) back at home. Drinking lots of water and herbal teas is a good thing along with minimizing caffeine. This was quite an issue for me as I drank up to a pot and a half of coffee per day in early recovery. No bueno. Two years later I had to stop coffee completely due to my newly developed illness, Ulcerative Colitis. My body was having a party and I was not invited. I stopped doing drugs and alcohol and went on to overdoing everything else I could at the time, this meant FOOD. My health at the time was in the gutter, hence I’m here encouraging you to have more of a desirable outcome.
Exercise is a great thing to start implementing, if you don’t have an active lifestyle already, in early recovery as well. This will help your brain create some of those natural chemicals you’ve been missing. Going for walks or just running around a park with a friend can be great routines to start. Feeling achy or anxious? A yoga class might be the thing you’re looking for to work through it all while focusing on your breathing, which will help everything.
We are people of 0 or 1,000. We’ve been living in extremes for a long time and now we want it all to be good overnight. This is all going to take some time. Best thing I can say is that we need to be patient with ourselves while taking that next step. Rome wasn’t built in a day either right? Again, keeping things simple is key.
Whatever it is, just do something different than what you have in the past. In the back of your mind make it a something that will bring you closer to better health than further away from it. This, I guarantee you will NOT regret.
If this was helpful to you, feel free to comment below and share it with your friends and loved ones. If you have any questions, just ask. Have a safe Holiday Season and remember to Love Life Today. THiS ReCoVeRY LiFE.