‘Tis the season for enjoying all the abundant goodies that help us celebrate these special holidays. Family, friends, and even our community call us out of our usual schedules to share in these abundances. Sometimes, however, we seem to overdo or overindulge in these abundances. This overconsumption causes us to abandon the usual or routine regulators that keep us “between the lines” so we can enjoy these occasions without the pitfalls that accompany the celebration binges like excessive spending, partying, eating, and drinking (alcohol).

The holiday season comes with expectations and wishes and is already loaded with anniversaries and memories of all kinds that access the whole spectrum of feelings. This is all a great part of this time to be jolly. Quite often these thoughts and feelings of past, or even current experiences, bring on the holiday blues. It is this process that opens the thresholds to emotional consumption. One that tells us to “let it all hang out” or let your hair down and relax and enjoy. Enjoying the season is what we can be doing if we remain aware of all these invitations to overdo. We need to utilize inner strengths in order to be keenly present in those moments. We need to judge each opportunity and consume with healthy moderation, especially when we are reminded of another occasion of joy or sadness. This is key in managing a happy and more fulfilling season, to not allow for a pesky addictive behavior to spoil the fun.

This may be easier said than done because for some, the notion of moderation is overwhelmed by the compulsivity to over-consume. The difficulty in harnessing these compulsive behaviors is the culture of the season and their norms along with the commercial impacts, especially the media, that trigger strong cravings in those addictive behaviors. This combination of holiday blues and cravings can be troublesome and can undermine all noble plans for holiday moderation, diminishing the joy that is possible during this time of year.

Added to this mix are the ordinary stressors that many of us bring, which further complicate this plan for healthy moderation. This does not have to be a crisis, but can be an opportunity to retool and add to our repertoire of self rescue skills, a plan to help you through it all. The following five point plan can help you take on the holidays this year. Give special attention to the:

  • Physical – Keep in mind your physical body and give it extra care with proper eating, good rest, and supplements like vitamins that you may need.
  • Emotional – We are emotionally tried this time of year. The older we are, the more we have to remember. Give attention to emotional stressors and take them on one at a time, especially with the help of quality quiet time alone to plan.
  • Educational – Educate yourself this year and control the situation before it controls you. Try a good book, centering practices, talking to healthy, supportive people, and nice long walks to help with meditation.
  • Social – Make it a point to try something new with a friend and find a healthy way for enjoyment of good fun.
  • Spiritual – Open yourself to whatever you perceive is outside of yourself and listen to your gut. Hopefully you will feel inner/spiritual strength and really come to love the season.

Happy moderation.

If you are experiencing issues that may become unmanageable for you this holiday season, there is help. Contact the intake department at Maria Droste Counseling Center at 303-867-4600 or intake@mariadroste.org to speak to someone about addiction counseling in Colorado.

Need Help?

If you would like to speak to a therapist about this subject or about any other issue you may be experiencing, contact the Maria Droste Access Center at 303-867-4600.

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by Peter Conti, LCSW, CAC II