Tips for Supporting a Loved One in Recovery During the Holidays

Tips for Supporting a Loved One in Recovery During the Holidays

The holidays can be a challenge for someone who is recovering from substance misuse. Stress levels and mental health struggles can shoot up during the holiday season.  Holiday parties can feature copious amounts of alcohol and other substances. How can you support a family member who is in recovery this holiday season? The staff at the Healthy365 Connection Center has some simple suggestions for people who want to be loving and compassionate this holiday season.

Ask your loved one if they want to ride together to the event.

Walking into an event alone can be daunting. Sharing a ride means you’re enjoying extra strength in numbers when you make your entrance. It also gives you the opportunity to communicate privately with your loved one before an event. Discuss how long you want to stay at the event and commit to keeping an eye on each other during the festivities.

Rely on active listening during a conversation and reflecting on what you heard.

If your loved one trusts you enough to talk about their feelings and fears over the holiday season, consider that a compliment. Active listening is a skill that goes beyond hearing what the other person is saying. It involves strong eye contact, being aware of non-verbal cues and listening to understand, rather than to respond. Don’t be afraid to ask open-ended questions like “What concerns do you have about tonight’s event?” or “What do you think is your best strategy for handling pressure to drink alcohol at parties like the one we’re attending?” Listen and reflect on what you hear. Confirm that you understand what the other person is saying. You may want to say something like, “I hear you saying that you’re worried about cousin Pete and his comments about your non-alcoholic drink choices. How can I help?”

Consider hosting a sober event.

Holiday gathering don’t have to involve free-flowing alcohol or other substances. If you want to support your loved one in recovery during the holidays, consider hosting a sober event. Plan on popcorn, movies, board games, appetizers and sparkling grape juice for the midnight toast. Invite others who understand your motives and will be supportive as well. Or invite your loved one to dinner and a movie, where you won’t be surrounded by revelers.

Encourage your loved one to write out their boundaries and positive coping skills prior to the event.

Sobriety risk factors are personal. One person in recovery may need to avoid any events that feature alcohol and other substances, while another feels comfortable at those events as long as they don’t feel pressure to imbibe as well. Everyone has a personal right to their emotions and individual boundaries. Writing down coping skills helps commit them to memory and reinforces their validity.

Ask your loved one how you can support them.

This is perhaps the most important thing you can do for a loved one. Instead of offering your own list of solutions, ask them what they would like you to do. Maybe they don’t want you to ban alcohol from your holiday party, but they would appreciate some fun non-alcoholic alternatives like the ones featured here. Perhaps they want help creating an escape strategy that lets them graciously leave if they become uncomfortable during the holiday celebrations. Or, maybe they simply want to be treated like any other guest. There are no right answers, only individual answers for the person you are supporting.

The holidays can be hard for people who are in recovery. You are not alone. If you or your loved one feel like you are needing some extra support over the holidays, call Healthy365 at 317-468-4231.

Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips

Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips

Halloween is coming soon and your family is probably planning to go trick-or-treating. This is a fun fall tradition, but it’s important to remain safe while out in the community, and to find a healthy balance when it comes to enjoying your sweet treats. Review these tips from Healthy365 for a safe and happy Halloween night this year!

Follow trick-or-treating times

First and foremost, if you’re planning to take your family out to trick or treat, be sure to follow the times set by your community. Don’t bother your neighbors for treats (or tricks) outside of these times and you’ll be in for a Happy Halloween. This year, Hallow’s Eve falls on a Sunday and in the larger Hancock County cities of Greenfield, Fortville, McCordsville and New Palestine, trick or treat times are planned for 5-8 p.m. If you’re going to take a trip outside of Hancock County for additional candy collecting, you can see more local trick or treat times from Indy with Kids

COVID-19 precautions

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, face coverings are still recommended to reduce the spread, especially indoors and for those who are unvaccinated. You can incorporate a face mask into your or your child’s costume with these fun ideas, and use hand sanitizer often, especially when handling treats that you or others will be eating. Trick-or-treating is generally expected to be a safe holiday tradition this year since it mostly takes place outside, but try to avoid indoor parties or crowds on the streets if possible.

Review trick-or-treating safety rules

We recommend going trick-or-treating as a family, especially with children younger than 12. Whether or not you accompany your kiddos, it’s important to review safety rules. Plan your route together, and make sure your kids know to stick together as a group. Trick-or-treaters should only walk on sidewalks and crosswalks, and never go inside a home or car. Some communities have different policies on lights, but generally you should only approach a home if their front lights are on. These days, many who pass out candy may sit in their driveway or on their porch. 

Get your home ready

Speaking of passing out candy, make sure to get your own home ready for visitors too. Clean up any tripping hazards on your driveways or paths, such as outdoor toys, leaves or debris. Turn on your outdoor lights and replace any burnt-out bulbs if necessary. If you have pets, you may want to have them stay inside to keep both them and any children visitors safe. And though candy is the usual currency on Halloween, you may also consider passing out small toys like holiday stickers, crayons or glow sticks. 

Provide a healthy balance

As you collect treats with your family, try to help your children make smart choices when it comes to all that candy. It’s perfectly okay to indulge in sweets on occasion, but there are also ways to curb a potential candy binge. It can help to eat an early and filling dinner before heading out to trick or treat. Try not to let your child snack on candy too much while you’re still out. Once you’re home, you can inspect their loot to check candy labels for any allergens and remove gum, peanuts or hard candies for younger children. You might also try talking to your children about trading in some or all of their candy for a different kind of treat, like a coveted toy, new book or a fun outing together. 

If you have more questions about eating healthy or maintaining a wellness journey for you or your family, the Support Navigators at Healthy365 would love to help! Contact us today to learn more about our connections to local resources for Hancock County residents.