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Holiday Triggers

Those in AA know that the holidays trigger episodes of relapse. To help hold the line, AA has a saying: “Another name for Thanksgiving is Thursday.”

One might also say, “Another name for the holidays is winter.”

That’s not to minimize or secularize the meaning of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Advent, Christmastide, or Kwanza; it is simply to remind us that we need to take one day at a time and we need not celebrate any holiday in a destructive manner.

Holidays are likewise triggers for depression, sadness, melancholy, even suicide. (Although suicide rates tend to rise in springtime.) That’s especially true if you’ve suffered a loss, if you’re struggling financially, if you’re bereaved of a loved one, if you suffer from PTSD, if you were emotionally wounded as a child, or if you’re emotionally affected by short, cold, dark days. The holiday season can feel competitive. Our consumerist culture pushes us to spend and hoard. Add alcohol to the mix, and things get worse because alcohol is a depressant.

So, what to do?

It’s a cliché, but nonetheless true: Take one day at a time.

Live for today. Try not to focus on the past, sinking into regrets or nostalgia.

Try not to worry about the future. Worry never changed anything.

Instead, assume God is real, God is love, and God loves you just as you are with all your warts.

Practice being kind to yourself. Love yourself. Forgive your failings. Do something nice for you. Be around people who lift you up. Lay off the booze. Stop buying so much junk.

Take a deep breath and be.

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