It’s crucial to commit you your mental, physical, and spiritual health during the holidays. This time of years can be a mixed bag for people in recovery. For some, the holiday season is full of triggers. For others, connecting with friends and family brings about significant joy. Know that your recovery and sobriety has to remain paramount.
It’s important for you to keep balanced by taking tiny, focused actions. Believe me, if you become conscious of these actions, you will notice how amazing your self-care during holidays will be.
1 Prioritize Your Physical HealthYour physical health must be your priority, and you should not compromise it while doing things for other people during the holiday season.
Maintain your regular physical activity. Even if you have to negotiate the time you need with loved ones, it’s better to engage in your physical needs than not. If you have a regular training session or gym that is not available, go for a walk, and practice yoga. Get your body moving.
If you have a healthy eating plan, stick to it. It’s easy to get off a plan during the holidays. Even if you allow yourself some sweet treats and savory eats, stay mindful of what you consume. Eat what you want, but do so mindfully.
Sleep tends to be a struggle during the holiday season. We get so excited to be with family and friends or late-night shopping before Santa comes that we stop prioritizing our most significant resource. Don’t wait till the last minute to get some rest. Take naps throughout the day if you must, but don’t forget the usual sleep hygiene skills you use throughout the year.
2 Live In The Present MomentThere are precious moments in the present. Go into the holidays with an acceptance that thoughts of the past or fears of the future may be present. That’s a fact. But you don’t have to dwell. If you find it difficult to compartmentalize, reach out for support from your fellows or sponsor.
A favorite grounding exercise of mine is “321,” which allows you to get into your senses and out of your head.
3 things you hear
3 things you see
3 things that touch your body
2 things you hear
2 things you see
2 things that touch your body
1 thing you hear
1 thing you see
1 thing that touches your body
This exercise is sure to bring you to the present moment every time.
3 Self ExplorationJournal throughout the holiday season. Write down how you feel. Write down your thoughts: the good ones and the challenging ones. Focus on your needs at that moment. Learn as you go. Be kind and patient with yourself.
Final ThoughtsTake care of yourself. You can only support another person after you have satisfied your health needs first. Remember, self-care is healthy selfishness.
Just make sure you do not get overwhelmed by all of it, and remember that stress is expected during the holiday season.
You will undoubtedly get through it in the best manner possible.
Just believe in yourself, follow the tips I have mentioned and enjoy the holiday season. Remember, you deserve care and kindness just like others.
Take good care.
Each and everyone of my clients and those reading this blog post are probably sick and tired of using Zoom! I hear you. I am, too. I never thought I would exclusively use telehealth in my practice, but I am grateful I chose this route. I know things are opening up, but the truth is that the pandemic continues to affect us all. One thing I know for sure is that there is a mental health crisis in America.
I predict that the majority of my colleagues will continue to, at least part-time, will use telehealth to meet clients where they are. I appreciate my mental health and medical providers using telehealth. As we head into Fall/Winter, the need for telehealth appointments will continue to rise as flu season kicks in.
Following are a few of the benefits you get from telehealth!
1 Time Saving
You don't need to get ready, go outside, pick up a bus or even use your car and travel to your therapist for the appointment.
Imagine how much time is wasted doing all this. Back in my in-person office, folks would rush between appointments, often late, and we would just be getting into the appointment when the clock ran out. Off they were, back to another appointment or work.
Now you can find a quiet cubicle and Zoom in for a call. If you are working at home, it’s probably easier. And I don’t mind the ambient house noises.
I make it super easy for anyone to schedule an appointment with me.
2 Access To Remote Areas
Over the years, I’ve received inquiries from potential clients pleading for referrals in their area. I have access to referral sources, but I always come up short in finding providers in small towns. Well, Zoom and Simple Practice have made that easier.
I can reach clients in other states: GA, VA, OR, and FL. It’s convenient for them and for me. The only hiccup may be the time zone difference, but that’s an easy fix. I appreciate being able to reach clients near and far.
3 Ensures Consistency
With telehealth mental health counseling, no matter where you are, and regardless of the situation, you can attend the session and maintain consistency.
I have found that new clients are more willing to follow through on intake appointments and follow-up sessions now that there are telehealth options. I recall many no-shows back when I had my office. It’s different now.
Consistent mental health counseling allows for more significant healing. It’s essential to learn the skills and then go out into the world and practice. This requires diligence and willingness. I enjoy teaching self-care skills, anxiety and depression reduction techniques and witnessing each client’s growth. Consistent treatment opens up doors, physically and mentally.
Telehealth is a game changer for those seeking mental health care. As a provider, I want to ensure I can meet clients where they are. And I need to make it safe for them and me. I have chosen telehealth as my main focus at ABLE Life Recovery.
Covid restrictions are easing, but it’s not gone. Clients can still find me. I can connect with them and offer them the same empathy, compassion, and support I did before the lockdown.
I am grateful for telehealth. I appreciate all the clients that have held onto their mental health care through all the tribulations. No matter where you are, you can access care.
Winter is among us. It’s time to get scheduled. Hone those self-care skills, increase consistency with your providers, and hold onto hope. We got this.
Take good care.
Relapse is not inevitable. There is no definitive science supporting the idea that I often hear in recovery circles that relapse is inevitable. It’s just not true. Or at least it doesn’t have to be.
It’s true that addiction is a crippling disease. I liken it to other complex disease symptoms like diabetes. As a diabetic, I know that there are measurable steps I must take in order to maintain healthy glucose numbers. But I also know that I can do everything in my power, and I will not “cure” diabetes. What I can do is treat the problem, ask for support, and maintain a commitment to taking care of my overall health and well-being.
Taking care of your addiction treatment and recovery is what you have to do. Relapse is not required. Yes, you have to stay mindful of triggers or slippery slopes that can lead you down the rabbit hole of addiction but don’t absorb the fallacy that you won’t stay sober long-term.
Fortunately, there are effective techniques for relapse prevention that might assist you in keeping control.
But before moving on to that, first, let's understand the triggers for relapse.
What Triggers Relapse?
There is no denying that every individual is different; therefore, what may trigger one person does not necessarily mean it will trigger another.
The following are a few of the most common factors that act as triggers for relapse.
Particular Events or Gatherings
Not all events and gatherings can be bad for you.
However, those specific events, for example, where people are drinking, may trigger a relapse. If you are a sex addict in recovery, and sex workers are on your bottom line behavior, you may want to avoid those areas of town you used to frequent. If you are a gambler in recovery, it’s best to skip the offer to play poker on the weekend.
While it is important not to attend events where relapse can be triggered, it is vital for you to socialize and make good connections. Substance addiction and behavior addictions thrive in isolation.
You may have the experience of feeling alone in a room full of people. Trauma, fear, and shame prevent you from leaning in and getting connected to a community of support. Ask for support from your therapist and those in recovery circles for advice on broadening your community.
Stress & Anxiety
Undoubtedly, it is challenging to handle situations where you are highly stressed and in extreme anxiety. Stress and anxiety can affect your mental, physical, spiritual, and well-being. I can’t tell you that you’ll never have stress or anxiety in your life, but there are some proven strategies to help decrease your symptoms.
Effective Relapse Prevention Techniques
Because it increases oxygen levels and induces calm, deep breathing is beneficial for the body and mind. You can perform this simple yet amazing technique anywhere you like without anyone noticing. Just take four deep breaths, hold them for four seconds, and then exhale.
I highly recommended a deep breathing exercise called a “physiological sigh.” You take two deep inhales through your nose and a long exhale out your mouth.
Build a Support Network
When you lack a support network that can motivate you and help you progress, it becomes much easier to return to destructive addictions. Therefore, you need to build a support network that can help and hold you accountable whenever you feel low or triggered.
The support network can be fellows from your 12-step recovery program, colleagues with whom you share similar interests, old friends who understand your current situation and who won’t judge you. You may also consider finding new activities on Meetup.com. New places and faces can support you as you move out of isolation.
This is one of the most effective ways of preventing relapse. Keep yourself busy and engage in productive activities, such as volunteering or taking up a hobby. You can also join a gym or a local sports team which would keep you busy in case you feel triggered.
Other busy activities might include completing a household project, gardening, walking your dog regularly, or sitting down with a coloring book.
Use a Journal
Journaling has many purposes, including preventing relapse.
Utilize your journal to keep account of your feelings, the things that urge you to go back to your addictions, and the exciting activities that help you stay busy.
Writing in a journal is a wonderful method to think back on your past, evaluate your objectives, and create a strategy for pursuing your goals while you are recovering from process addictions.
No doubt, preventing relapse is quite an arduous task, especially when you are in early recovery. However, it is doable, and you can also prevent it no matter how challenging the situation is.
All you have to do is to believe in yourself, remind yourself why you want to arrest the addictive behavior, and then simply follow the aforementioned techniques
Take good care.
--D.J. Burr, LMHC
I often see articles asking wether sex addiction is real or not, and in my opinion it is very real. I identify as someone who has struggled with sexual addiction. It is as debilitating as diabetes and insidious as cancer. I am grateful to be alive. So, for me, sexual addiction will always be real. The pain I suffered was real, and, so is my recovery. I say those who don't believe are those who have not suffered. It doesn't mean your suffering or my suffering isn't real.
So, what is sex addiction?
Sex Addiction or Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder, defined by the World Health Organization, “is characterized by a persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges resulting in repetitive sexual behavior.
Symptoms may include:
Out of control sexual behaviors can include:
2. Simultaneous or repeated sequential affairs
4. Multiple anonymous partners
5. Partner sexualization, objectification
6. Sexual aversion
7. Cyber sex, phone sex
8. Unsafe sexual activity
9. Strip clubs and adult bookstores
Those struggling with sexual addiction typically present in my office with anxiety about the type of sex or amount of sex they are having; relational difficulties around sexual dysfunction; depression related to low self-esteem about sexual difficulties; or they already have awareness about sexual addiction and they are referred to me by a current or former client.
I always feel a great deal of empathy and compassion for anyone struggling with sexual addiction, because I know exactly what it feels like. And sometimes, people seek me out because they have heard my story of recovery from sexual addiction.
Seeking treatment, whether for sexual addiction, or the presenting issues of depression, anxiety or trauma, is a courageous act. No one is immune to sexual addiction or addiction in general. The disease doesn't care who you are or where you are from; if you are experiencing pain or have experienced trauma in your life, and have limited coping strategies, addiction or numbing can become an unhealthy coping tool.
You don't have to fight the battle alone. Schedule an individual therapy or coaching session with me today. I can help you navigate the complexities of sobriety and recovery. There is a solution; just ask for help.
You may also benefit from attending 12-Step programs for sex addiction (Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, or Sexual Compulsives Anonymous).
Writing.... I'm a writer and even I forget to write sometimes. I have different mediums that I write in - nonfiction, fiction, poetry, screenplays, and this blog. And I have neglected my blog.
I am setting the intention today, I will post at least once per month in this space. I have lots to say about a lot of things. It's important to have a space to process what comes up for me, and hear what comes up from you. If you have questions you would like me to answer, make sure you leave a comment, and I will respond. Promise. :)
Check out the new blog post coming this week. I'm back.
This entire website is about me, my therapist practice, and my journey of being a healing professional.