I’m Recovering This Christmas: Dealing With Downtime

It’s officially the festive season and no matter where you are in life – at school, university, home or at work – you are most likely to find yourself involved in some form of festive celebration. In this series “I’m Recovering This Christmas”, we’re sharing our thoughts and tips to keep your recovery the priority this winter.

You may have read our recent blog on the vulnerability that’s often felt when we slow down and allow ourselves to take a break. This theme is particularly prominent during the Christmas period as friends and family opt for sofa-bound relaxing in front of Christmas films and there’s often no set structure to the day.

People in recovery often struggle to find meaning during time that has no productive direction. There’s a fear that overwhelming emotions or critical thoughts may sneak in and get too much of the spotlight. If this resonates with your experience, that’s okay. Here are some tools to have in your Christmas toolbox to keep your recovery priority…

Create a list of activities to do to manage discomfort

There are a number of activities you can do during down time that don’t have to take you away from family time. A great one is a colouring in a colouring book as it allows you to keep “busy” without really doing anything. It’s also a great way to focus the mind and enter a state of “flow” that allows you to perceive and process thoughts that arise during the practice. You might want to start a jigsaw puzzle or do something routine like taking a long shower and lingering whilst pampering. Perhaps you want to sort out your playlists, or make a playlist for a loved one? The possibilities are endless – and if you have any ideas, let us know on Twitter!

Recognise, acknowledge, process and make peace with critical thoughts

It’s tempting to dismiss negative, critical thoughts as being unhelpful to the recovery process. However, if we’re too quick to dismiss these types of emotions and feelings, we often don’t allow ourselves to process what they’re trying to communicate with us. Recovery is a journey that involves making peace with our whole selves (warts and all!) and working with ourselves, rather than against ourselves.

 So! Perhaps keep a journal nearby so you can get your thoughts down on paper and out of your head. An exercise we’re fond of involves writing all negative thoughts and worries on one side of the piece of paper and on the other side, writing loving response to each individual thought. This helps cultivate that loving response that, if practiced often enough, will become somewhat automatic during times of stress. If journaling isn’t your thing, give meditation a go. Calm and Headspace are both fantastic apps that introduce the action of meditating very slowly and with plenty of guidance.

Getting some support in the downtime

Reaching out for support can be difficult, but there are ways of being with others that can ease this time. Asking directly for help might be difficult, but being alongside a parent, sibling or friend can be really helpful – even if it’s a chore, like doing the dishes or going to the supermarket. These small activities can be really helpful in providing some activity, and they come without the added intensity of a sit-down face-to-face conversation.

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