Relapse Prevention Tips For The Holidays | Counselor Toolbox Episode 70

This episode was pre-recorded as part of
a live continuing education webinar. On demand CEUs are still available for this
presentation through ALLCEUs. Register at I’d like to welcome everybody to today’s
presentation on relapse prevention. During the holidays over the next little
while we’re going to define relapse in case you’re not familiar with the
concept which well we’ll talk about it and we’ll identify exacerbating and
mitigating factors for relapse we’ll also explore unique relapse triggers and
traps during the holidays and things our clients can do in order to most
effectively address some of those relapse traps
so relapse is the recurrence of symptoms and it can be emotional you know feeling
depressed feeling anxious feeling angry cognitive getting that stinking thinking
back is what we call it in addiction an addiction work those basically the
irrational thoughts and cognitive distortions that can keep people stuck
and then behavioral symptoms whether that be over sleeping overeating using
substances that you know you’re not supposed to use or using them to excess
any of those things can be a recurrence of symptoms or a relaxed that were
referring to relapse warning signs are when the person starts down that path
now everybody’s relapse is a bit different part of it’s depending on your
diagnosis but also part of it’s just kind of depending on where you are
emotionally mentally and physically at that point in time some people will
start feeling blue they’ll start feeling more negative they’ll start feeling more
blah which may be the onset of the beginning
of a relapse a lot of times in relapse and addiction treatment somebody comes
in and they say this relapse just hit me from out of the blue and I don’t believe
that I really unless something major critical happened in their lifetime in
the past you know week like they lost their house or something
generally relapses start long before they actually have a full-blown episode
again whether it’s an episode of depression generalized anxiety bipolar
disorder addiction any of those so it’s important to understand that relapse
isn’t just an addiction term we’re going to talk about it in terms of
co-occurring for the purposes of this presentation relapse warning signs
living mindlessly if you realize and I did this the other day I was driving
home from and I can’t even remember where now the store and there are four
exits between the store I go to and the exit I get off for my house and I got to
the exit that I get off from my house and I totally don’t remember the other
three exits driving past them or anything
I was driving mindlessly I was kind of lost in my own little world that’s not
the best when you’re driving but it’s also not the best when you’re living if
you’re just getting up and going through the motions and going to sleep and you
can’t really remember what you did that day it’s like you know I remember
getting up but I don’t remember a lot of what else I did or how I felt because we
have a lot of feelings during the day the average person has 15 anger
situations a day now why is that important well because anger is one of
our threat warning signs anger can lead us to be more hyper hyper vigilant it
can exacerbate depression so if you have these 15 situations in a day and it’s
not that you’re seeing them letting them go and deciding they’re not worth your
effort but you’re not even really noticing you’re just kind of stuffing
them down and going whatever it can add up over time so living mindlessly
is a big deal we want to make sure that people are paying attention to what
they’re eating you know that’s one of my big battle cries is to make sure that
you give your body the building blocks it needs to make the neurotransmitters
that you need to feel happy but also to stay healthy over committing some people
over commit to avoid feeling feelings you know it’s better to stay busy which
is true in the short term but if you’re over committing to avoid feeling
feelings indefinitely that can’t go on indefinitely over committing implies
that you’re doing more than you’ve got the energy to do you’re not dealing with
all this undercurrent which you’re having to use some energy to keep
bottled up it’s not just like you put a cork on it and you’re done with it you
have to use some energy it’s more like leaning against mine my daughter’s
closet door to try to keep it closed from the Avalanche God loved her
anyhow over-committing can also be done to get approval or to
not disappoint other people if every time somebody says will you help me and
you feel guilty if you don’t say yes this can be a relapse warning sign why
because if you’re needing everyone else’s approval now one person you’re
not probably not going to over commit if you just say yes to one person but if
you’re saying yes to four or five six people you might want to look at whether
you’re doing that because you need external validation which is a relapse
warning sign sleeping too much or too little as we get depressed as we get
anxious a lot of times the sleep schedule starts getting wonky and
depending on the person it could be too much or it could be they have insomnia
they’re just too stressed out and I can’t sleep at all same thing with
eating we eat for a variety of reasons a lot of times it’s not just hunger so if
someone is eating too much because they’re trying to basically stuff their
emotions that can be a problem that’s a clue that
something is going on that needs to be addressed or they’re headed down the
road toward a full-blown episode of whatever failing to relax and include
pleasurable activities yes it’s important we can’t just work and sleep
and eat we need to enjoy life oh my gosh take time to smell the roses it doesn’t
have to be three hours a day it can be fifteen minutes but do something where
you can say all right you know there was a real good reason I got up out of bed
today and I’m doing it right now getting stressed over things you can’t control
one of the things we find with people with addictions but also anxiety and
depression is people are stressed over things they can’t control so they are
constantly just throwing their energy out the window for things they have no
control over and they’re staying miserable so if you’re getting stressed
over these things that you can’t control one of the things you want to look at is
what’s my motivation for getting stressed out over these things
Amit am I just living mindlessly and I’m getting stressed out and not even
thinking to myself is this worth my energy or am I getting stressed out over
these things that I can’t control because I’m trying to avoid dealing with
avoid dealing with what is really stressing me out
so I’m projecting my stress other places hmm this happens a lot during the
holidays because people are getting back together with family that they may or
may not have the best relationship with people are faced with a lot of financial
issues if they’re trying to buy presents and they can’t afford it they may have
some self esteem issues tied up in that there’s a lot of reasons people get
stressed during the holidays and they can project that on to other people they
can turn that into being negative cognitively and withdrawing from
positive social support Daniel social support but we want to
have the positive stuff in there so if we see people socially withdrawing we
can say hmmm they may be struggling a little bit now they could be trying to
get away from everybody else’s negativity so it’s not necessarily a bad
thing but well when you look at these things in the totality of the situation
for that person what’s going on is this Indian wow I can’t talk today is this
indicative of an impending relapse so unique triggers around the holidays and
I just kind of lump them all together here and I’m sure I forgot some but
basically from the end of October until January two people have a lot of family
and social gatherings you get together with family or maybe your family’s
across the country so you can’t get together with them and it intensifies
your sense of disconnection and isolation social gatherings
lots of times social gatherings are for you and a plus-one
and if you don’t have a plus-one people sometimes feel not good or more
depressed if if they’re not with someone else during the holidays which takes us
to loneliness as loneliness happens as people go through holidays if they don’t
have anywhere to be or if they don’t have the same friends to be with even if
it’s just because they recently moved maybe they moved across country so it’s
not practical to get back with their old you know family and friends for the
holidays it can contribute greatly to a sense of loneliness abundant food and
drink if eating issues are part of someone’s condition whether you know
eating disorders depression emotional eating and drink and when I’m talking
about drink I’m talking alcoholic drink it’s there it’s available just about
every party you go to there’s going to be alcohol available unless it’s
specifically a dry party which most aren’t so people
have to figure out how they’re gonna deal with this if they’re going to
participate in some of the holiday festivities with especially like
coworkers and friends there are lots of additional time demands because you have
work plus you have getting gifts and you have calling people and you have holiday
parties and you have this and you have that it gets exhausting when people are
going through the holidays it’s really hard to find time to do a lot of stuff
and that takes us back to living mindlessly it’s important for people to
really budget their time not only if they’re in recovery but period let’s not
make it so somebody is mentally exhausted and stressed out from the
holidays we want them to be excited some people’s reaction to all of these
holidays is what do I have to be thankful for they’re focusing on a lot
of their losses and you know it’s not for me to say well let’s not focus on
those right now let’s focus on what you have sometimes
the losses are so palpable or so raw that it’s hard for people to get excited
about Thanksgiving it’s hard for people to get excited about Christmas the yes
the short days as somebody pointed out do go into it as because we have
seasonal affective disorder I remember one of the places that I worked you know
I worked there for 14 years and my office it was a big square building but
all of our offices were in the interior corridor so none of us had windows and I
would go to work and it would be dark and I would leave work and it would be
dark and if I didn’t actually make time to leave my office and go outside I
wouldn’t see the sunlight so my circadian rhythms got a little bit wonky
vitamin D went down depression went up so we know that during this period of
time when there is less sunlight it’s more important for people to be
cognizant of getting outside getting some sunlight going to the doctor making
sure that they have adequate levels of vitamin D and just to take care of
themselves because it does feel like there are fewer hours in the day to get
things done since it’s dark so much some people when they’re watching the movies
that are on TV and reminiscing and they want that beaver cleaver Christmas they
want that perfect Christmas and when it doesn’t happen they feel a sense of loss
they feel a sense of being gypped the holidays also serve as reminders of
losses especially losses of other people because they’re not with you during the
holidays financial stresses abound during the holidays and for some people
and this is more pertaining to New Year’s people are like New Year’s great
why should I celebrate it’s the same stuff different day and they get
frustrated because they feel stuck they don’t feel like there’s any hope than
anything’s going to get better so now that you’re all so excited about the
holidays let’s talk about what to do family and social gatherings if the
person has to be there help them figure out how to cope with the people they
don’t want to be around because most of the time there are a few people in your
family but you don’t mind hanging out with or at least one or two figuring out
who that who those people are and how you’re gonna hang around them and try to
avoid some of the people that you don’t want to spend as much time around
positive mantras things that you can tell yourself I can do this I’m good
enough sometimes one of my clients had a very very critical family member and so
before she would go into these parties or family get-togethers she would just
tell herself you know so-and-so is going to find something to be critical
about so let’s hope she does it quickly and gets it out of the way that was kind
of her positive mantra so she was prepared for it she knew that
it was coming and could sort of brace for it understanding that it was more
about the other person than it was about her don’t give the people that are
you’re not wanting to spend time around your power and reward them by feeding in
so if they want to be nasty if they want to be negative if they want to be
critical you can let it hurt you you can let it get you angry or you can just let
it go and one of the things that’s true about a lot of addicts and sometimes
people who aren’t who don’t have at addictions as well is that we are
control freaks so it’s important to use the word give them your power because
most people are like oh I’m not giving anybody anything so power is a good
thing to phrase it rehearse coping strategies and refusal skills in session
and even driving to whatever the party is rehearse those coping strategies in
your mind imagine the situation because you’re going to remember it better if
you actually play the whole situation through in your mind whereas you know as
opposed to just saying okay well if somebody says this then I’m going to do
this you need to actually imagine yourself in this situation and walk it
through and like I said earlier identify two or
three people you want a shadow generally you can find a couple people in whatever
situation whether it’s an office party or a family get-together that you don’t
mind spending time around if it’s an unsafe situation and this is one that is
going to trigger depression anxiety anger or addiction rehearse how to
politely decline an invitation sometimes there is enough toxic stuff in a family
or in an that it’s just not something the person
is at a point they can deal with maybe six months down the road when their
coping skills are stronger when their stress is lower sure but right now it’s
not a safe situation for them to be in and that’s a hard decision for a lot of
people to make but it’s one we can help them figure out you know the pros and
cons of going to this party or the pros and cons of doing this activity I love
dr. Seuss’s quote those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind
and it’s not exactly true obviously if it’s a company party and your boss Minds
he does matter but in general if you have to decline an invitation and you
you know do it politely and people understand those who care about you
understand and they don’t mind you know they may want you there they may be a
little disappointed but they get it and it’s important to have the person
identify a legitimate reason they can’t go so depending on the person they may
not want to say exactly what’s going on they may be able to find another reason
they can’t go but it has to be legitimate it can’t just be something
they pulled out of the air like my dog sick they need to have they need to have
something where the person goes okay I get it loneliness invitations a lot of
times ask for a plus-one and if you don’t have a plus-one it just kind of
rubs your nose in it that you’re all alone people are shopping for everyone
else which can be really devastating if you don’t have anybody to shop for maybe
you don’t have any kids maybe you just moved somewhere and you don’t have
family close by maybe you’re estranged from everyone because of a variety of
circumstances and you don’t have anyone to shop for one thing people can do is
shop for the less fortunate you know shop for
Toys for Tots do something like that people are going to family gatherings if
you don’t have a family gathering to go to you can feel left out find other
people without a place to go and invite them over i Thanksgiving is like my
favorite holiday of all holidays and I don’t think anybody should have to spend
Thanksgiving alone if they don’t want to so we always have you know lots of
people come over for Thanksgiving because it’s important to me that they
feel like they’re not alone if you don’t want to do that if you
don’t want to invite you know semi strangers over to your house you can go
hiking so you’re not sitting at home thinking about how everybody else is
sitting around the table eating turkey or whatever it is commune with your
higher power your higher power is always there so you’re never alone hmm there’s
a thought Skype or FaceTime or VC or whatever
video chatting program you use it’s not the same as being there but it does help
some I know when I was moving to Nashville my family was in Virginia and
a lot of times I would keep the video chat app open most of the time when I
was at home that way my kids could come by and you know say hi or asked me a
question and I felt like I was more part of their lives at that point instead of
just calling them on the phone for a few minutes I felt a little less lonely
abundant food and drink if overeating or engaging in alcoholic
beverages is a problem don’t go somewhere famished because if
you do you’re likely to gorge stay as far away from the buffet table as you
can now this isn’t just for people with eating disorders this can be for people
who tend to emotionally eat or people who tend to eat too much and then filled
to you about it if you hang out by the buffet table you’re probably going to
snack and munch a lot more and be more mindless in your eating eat mindlessly
mindfully if you have to eat so you’re not eating out of stress you’re actually
getting a plate and you’re sitting down and you’re thinking about what you’re
eating not just randomly munching while you talk to people choose lower calorie
options yeah you know those veggie plates are a lot lower calorie they may
not seem as appealing but if you want to have something that you have the option
of you know constantly having that hand-to-mouth thing going on that’s an
option get smaller helpings instead of a great big ol spoonful get you know 1/4
of a spoonful if it’s a potluck bring a lower calorie dish that way you know you
have at least something that you can eat actively sip on water or low calorie
drinks again that gets that hand-to-mouth thing going on so you
don’t feel like you’re being deprived you’re not just walking around with your
hands in your pockets going to everybody else’s eating I want to eat have a
battle buddy if you can go to whatever the get-together is with someone who is
also trying to control their consumption that can help play the tape through
before you eat or drink something say if I eat this right now then what’s going
to happen and how am I going to feel after the party’s over same thing if I
have this drink you know maybe it’s something I really want now but am I
going to stop with one what’s gonna happen next and how am I going to feel
after the party’s over or tomorrow morning if you cook at your own house
then you can control how much fat and calories and stuff is in there but you
also probably want to send the leftovers away so you’re not sitting there staring
as sweet potato pie and whatever other goodies that you happen to make time demands time to make time
management is a priority because everybody wants you to be somewhere so
it’s important to identify what you can let go of to make time for seasonal
demands so one of the things I live in a farm and one of the blessings when it
comes close to the holiday season is the grass quits growing as much so I don’t
have to mow every single week which mowing our property takes about four
hours so that frees up quite a bit of time what else can you do to make time
for seasonal demands you know you may cut back on some of your five-course
meal cooking and do something a little bit easier for dinner look at a
crock-pot or a pressure cooker love my pressure cooker you don’t have to stay
for hours when you do go somewhere though if you go to a party or a
get-together you can go in you can make nice work the room a little bit an hour
90 minutes later you can leave it’s not like you’ve got to stay from the time it
starts until it’s time to clean up for the person who says what do I have to be
thankful for well yeah that’s all obviously a therapeutic issue that
you’re not going to be able to work through in one session sometimes it’s
helpful for people to do things for others who are less fortunate whether
they feel like they’ve got something to be thankful for or not they are bringing
joy and happiness to other people and in a way it gives them an opportunity to
focus on people who are even less fortunate than they are volunteering at
a soup kitchen or Habitat for Humanity handing out blankets to the homeless a
lot of times there are 12-step celebrations of with people who are in
recovery and it’s going to be a dry get-together so there’s no stress there
no threat there and a lot of times these 12-step
celebrations are the people who don’t have other family to go hang out with
whether their family is not physically present in the city or the county or
it’s just not a safe place for them to be so look at local meetings if your
client happens to be someone in recovery and encourage them to take advantage of
that if they’re not in addiction recovery you know that’s fine look at
some of the activities that may be going on at different churches that the client
goes to different social organizations in your local area even meetup sometimes
there are meetups that you can just google meet I think it’s Meetup calm and
find things that are going on during the holidays for those people who don’t have
somewhere else to be if they sit around at home they’re likely more likely to
focus on all the things they’re not thankful for encourage them to review
their gratitude journal and write in it yes we have to deal with the reasons
that they have lost hope the reasons that they don’t feel like they have
anything to be thankful for but we also need to balance that with increasing the
positive we need to deal with the negative but also increase the positive
so what good happened today you know it may not be a big thing you know maybe
you didn’t win the lottery but you got up you got dressed you went out your car
started woohoo got to love that got to work safely got to work on time you know
the little things that we don’t know that we often take for granted and you
can look at visiting the sick sometimes you can go to hospitals and visit other
people this has to be done with advance preparation most hospitals have
volunteer training programs you’ve got to go to go through one of the programs
at Shands in Florida they had a program to hold premature infants
and a lot of people love doing that because you know they’re babies and
babies are cute you can also go visit animals at the pound that usually makes
me more sad but that’s how I ended up with so many animals anyhow the beaver
cleaver Christmas what is it about what you perceive as the beaver cleaver
Christmas that you n me you know warden June Cleaver everybody was happy they
had lots of presents what was it or what is it that you wish you had and how can
you make that happen you know maybe your parents weren’t
warden June Cleaver you know most people’s parents weren’t so how can you
create a situation now where the holiday is filled with love and happiness and
all that stuff avoid watching holiday specials that get you upset if you watch
things they are going to make you envious that are going to make you
regretful or resentful of what you didn’t have or what you don’t have and
don’t watch them reminders of losses even years after a death holidays can
remind you of someone one of the things I encourage my clients to do is figure
out how can you celebrate that person on that holiday if it’s too difficult for
someone to celebrate that person you know it may be too raw or it may just be
such a traumatic event that they don’t want to go there it’s something that we
need to figure out how they’re going to deal with because it’s going to be
ever-present and focus on what you have and where you want to go if you’ve lost
maybe you were in a town that was hit by a tornado and you lost all your material
possessions and now it’s it’s Christmas and you’re expected to be giving out
presents and you don’t have the money for presents or whatever the case is you
may be reminded that you don’t have the financial ability to do it you may be
reminded of all the tangible things that you lost but we
can’t get those back so what do we need to do we need to help the person focus
on what they do have and where they want to go what they want to get back and how
to do it so start making an action plan during this time is it’s almost like
cleaning out your closet because when they say well I lost my house okay tell
me about what it is what was it about your house that was meaningful to you
except for it was your house you know do you have to have another 7,000
square-foot house or can any house be a home given the right circumstances and
people can really start examining their priorities not necessarily what they
want to do during the holiday season it’s important however to understand
that these issues are going to come up so how is the person going to deal with
it if they start remembering their significant other who passed away died
of a drug overdose and they start getting really sad what is their action
plan how are they going to cope with that in order to prevent themselves from
going further down that relapsed path to a full-blown
episode of depression or addiction financial stresses the holidays
unfortunately have become very commercialized and that’s unfortunate
for a lot of people because they can’t afford to buy a bunch of stuff identify
free activities there are lots of cities that have Christmas lights on display I
know here in Middle Tennessee the Opryland Hotel does up their center area
whatever they call it with all kinds of lights every year and it’s you can spend
two hours walking around in there and the nice thing is it’s inside and it’s
free so you’re not freezing and it’s not expensive make something for someone you
may not be super handy crafty and that’s okay
you can take pictures you can go through pictures that you have of maybe you and
that other person and make an album or if they’re digital
pictures even cheaper you can make a slideshow and save it as you know how a
movie or a video and send it to them you can create a humor book find silly memes
and put them all together and again it can be digital or a digital scrapbook so
these are all things that you can do for free and most everybody knows how to
download pictures and do simple crop and paste sort of things so those are ways
that people can say I was thinking about you and your meaningful to me without
having to spend a whole bunch of money in therapy people can explore why the
material possessions are important to them and whether those possessions and
having stuff is in their top three to five values you know if we talk about
values oriented action and doing things that are getting you closer to your
values is it more important to create a situation where people you know you love
and care about them or is it more important to make sure that you give
them the most expensive gift another year same stuff different day so
identify what you want to be different next year one of the things one of the
main reasons I find people get this attitude is they don’t know how to set
goals so score this is something we are really talented at helping people do set
goals set SMART goals we can help them look at what they did wrong before why
their goals failed before we can help them tweak those to make more effective
goals for this year part of goal-setting is also maintaining
that motivation because any change is going to get rough at some point in time
you know it’s not just going to be a walk in the park every day so on the
days that it feels a little bit more like drudgery how do you maintain your
motivation because that’s even if the goal was really good if they didn’t know
how to maintain their motivation or understand the necessity of paying
attention to this then go like we failed so this is one we can
really help people with easily and and relatively quickly prevent
vulnerabilities the risk of relapse will decrease as people’s capacity to
self-regulate thinking feeling memory judgment and behavior increases so
self-regulate their thinking being mindful of what thoughts are going in
and out and what they’re holding on to versus wanting what they’re letting just
kind of come and go right on through this is where mindfulness comes in super
duper helpful effectively what’s going on when they can’t regulate their own
feelings and we’ve talked about a lot of different techniques to help people
identify their feelings and regulate them even if it’s just basic dialectical
behavior therapy skills learning emotional regulation is crucial because
if they don’t feel like they can control their emotions then that’s a lot more
likely they’re going to relapse and holidays are emotionally charged when
they can self-regulate their memory which is part of mindfulness and
judgment when they can think about is this really what I want to do we’ve
talked before about helping clients increase that stop between the time when
they have a feeling and an impulse and then they actually act on the behavior
they need to stop and go is this gonna get me closer to or further away from
the things that are important to me leading up to the holidays now if it’s
already the holidays you know it’s too late to prepare for it but leading up to
the holidays just like a runner in preparation for a right race quits
training quite so hard before the race to let the muscles recover and the body
prepare leading up to the holidays this is your race this is your sprint towards
the end of the year it’s important to get plenty of rest and take care of
yourself so you have energy to deal with all of the time demands and
all of the people and all of the personalities if you don’t like crowds
shop early and or online you know that’s one of those easy ways to prevent a
vulnerability I personally hate crowds and I don’t really much like shopping
either so I get real grumpy when I know I’ve got to go out and navigate through
a sea of people to try to pick out seventeen presents or however many
people are on my shopping list for the Christmas so shop early shop online my
stepmother used to have all of her Christmas shopping done by the end of
July every year identify what has to be done and make a plan and I said has to
be does the car have to be washed it depends on the person but my comment
would be no you know even if it’s dirty you know it’s not going to not run if
it’s dirty what else has to be done and when we go back to my yard yes I have
been known to skip a week and just kind of let it get a little bit wild and
woolly if I had other priorities so making sure people can write down what
needs to be done and then go through that list because most of the time there
are a lot of things on that list that we think need to be done that really don’t
have to be it would be really nice to get them done and they need to be done
eventually but what has to be done this week don’t grocery shop hungry if you
tend to be an emotional eater or if you tend to stuff your feelings if your
grocery shop hungry you’re just kind of setting yourself up to buy a bunch of
stuff that you probably don’t want to have around in the house schedule in fun
even if it’s not holiday oriented fund do things that you want to do not once a
week not once a month every day scheduling something fun even if it’s
for 15 minutes and reach out to social support even if it’s online you
not have a great social support system where you are physically but the great
thing about the web and phones and all that stuff is you can reach out to
social support touch base with somebody just call to say hi
you don’t have to call and go I’m having a really bad day today unless you are
it’s better to reach out and just make that connection with someone most of the
time they’re probably going to make you laugh or you may find that you’re both
sharing similar stresses so you can talk about how you’re how you’re dealing with
it unfortunately the media tells us this should be and you know how I feel about
the word should this should be the happiest time of year for a lot of
people that sets them up for depression they’re like well everything says I
should be happy and I am stinking miserable I can all I’m focusing on is
how broke I am and all of the losses I’ve had
so okay that is stuff we can deal with in session
but between sessions how can we help you build up on what you want your life to
look like you know how can we increase the
happiness for you holidays highlight losses loneliness and
financial stresses that’s true so it’s something we need to talk about in terms
of how important are these things to you in the big scheme of things and what can
you do to rectify them if they are a big deal to you like we talked about free
and low-cost activities for financial stresses you’re still doing fun stuff
it’s just not costing an arm and a leg if you’re lonely
how can you address that if you’ve had a bunch of losses you can’t get those back
so what are we going to do just keep working toward that stage of acceptance
and it’s not probably gonna happen overnight or in a week or maybe even in
a month but what can we do to make these next couple of weeks on a pain scale
with one being no pain at all to five being
excruciating depression or emotional pain what can we do to make your pain
scale something more like a – you know so it’s not feeling like you were just
being cut open without anesthesia constantly relaxed prevention involves
people knowing what their first signs of relapse are if somebody’s first sign of
relapse is they go out and they start shopping and engaging in quote retail
therapy warning sign if their first sign is that they withdraw from other people
you know look back at prior relapses and then you know whenever that relapse
happened go back six months and trace forward and see where the relapse
actually started and what the warning signs were for that person most of us
have a very habitual pattern of behavior prevent getting run down and being
vulnerable make sure you’re getting enough rest make sure you’re taking care
of you yes there’s a lot of stuff that needs to be done but you can’t go to the
parties if you’re flat on your back sick or if you’re too depressed to get out of
bed so we’ve got to set some priorities set healthy boundaries if something is
not safe for you for whatever reason you know figure out a way to set that
boundary so it’s healthy for you it’s not putting you in a situation where
you’re feeling like you’re going to use or it’s making you extremely depressed
and also as clinicians we can help people figure out how to deal with the
fallout because like I said if you decide that you can’t go to this family
get-together because it’s not safe for you at this point in time there gonna be
some people who probably are upset about it so how is the client going to handle
that how are they going to handle that without letting that negativity or
upsetness throw them into an episode anyway address issues of rejection
isolation and failure because these all come up during the holidays if you can’t
buy the gifts that you wanted to buy if you don’t get invited to the parties
that you wanted to be invited to all of these things can really kind of be
brought to the surface think back to high school when it was either
homecoming or prom you know if you want to put it in perspective if holidays or
just generally grande for you most of us had a homecoming or a prom
where we were sitting there going well guess I’m not going to that and
especially as a teenager it was catastrophic
as adults that may not seem as big of an issue but when you’re looking at all
these social situations it can feel very rejecting and with social media and
everybody talking about where they’re going and what they’re doing and posting
pictures of the dresses or outfits that they have it keeps people rubbing their
nose in it if you will if they didn’t get invited or if they don’t have those
kind of friends and that’s what they want so we can help them figure out what
do you want and how can you get it and how can you set Hilton goes back to
healthy boundaries you may need to take a break from Facebook for a while if
it’s going to upset you every time you log on and set positive proactive goals
like I said we need to deal with the negative deal with the upset deal with
the grief all of those dysphoric feelings in
counseling true but we also need to remember that it’s not only eliminating
the negative but enhancing the positive so what can people do to feel more
emotionally happy what can people do to have a more positive or optimistic
outlook and what can people do behaviorally to help get them more
towards where they want to be because they can’t work on those proactive
positive goals and continue to sort of beat themselves with a wet noodle so it works kind of like wow what’s the
word I’m looking for reverse psychology if they’re working on
the positive they don’t have time for the negative so what comments questions
suggestions because I know I didn’t hit nearly all of the interventions we can
do around the holidays and it was one of the things that I encourage people to do
before they go to a social gathering is to think in their mind what is it that I
want to get out of this why am I going to this gathering and if it’s because
the hostess or host is important to them and they want to you know appease that
person or be gracious to that person great go do that and then you know you
can leave identify what it is or you know do they have to work the whole room
are they going because they want a promotion so they need to talk to three
people if they set goals or get a mindset about why am I putting myself in
this position why am i using my energy for this sometimes it can help them
navigate the situation with a little bit more clarity and that’s that’s definitely true about
the teens a lot of times teens don’t want to go to family gatherings partly
because the alcohol and other stuff is there partly because they feel a lot of
times they feel misunderstood or judged by the people there which intensifies
their desire to use or to escape and they want to be with their friends and
this is time they can’t be with their friends so there’s a lot of reasons that
teens may not want to go so a parent understands what’s going on they can
better buffer the child you know maybe the child has to go but and and this is
true not only for teens but for younger children they have to go but helping the
child understand that you know I love you for who you are and you know maybe
your grandma and grandpa don’t have the same values or outlook on things as you
do but we still love you and you know we respect your choices so they don’t feel
like they are being ganged up on let’s see well thank you everybody for attending
today and I’m really glad you were able to be here I would love to hear any more
of your suggestions and that point scrolling back up here the point that
Melinda made about providing these tools and we can provide a handout to parents
of teens that helps them understand some of the things teens may be going through
during the holidays so that’s if you enjoy this podcast please like and
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