Think surviving is too strong a word? The National Safety Council estimates between 365 and 517 traffic deaths over the Thanksgiving Weekend, with estimates of non-fatal accidents ranging from 39,000 to 55,300.
Overdose deaths are on the increase for the 11th consecutive year, presently averaging at nearly 40,000 per year. Or 105 per day. It’s a lot.
And there are always the smaller but significant statistics, the u
nfortunate souls who burn down
the house while cooking the turkey, and the guy who electrocutes himself while putting
And that’s just for starters: How about mental health? While the old myth about suicide rates increasing over the holidays has been laid to rest, the fact is that there is something about the warm embrace of family and friends over a meal consisting of alcohol, starches and tryptophan that can really make you want to jump out of your skin, especially the warm embrace of the inevitable inebriated relative that lingers way too long.
What you can do:
Sober alcoholics in AA have developed some wonderful concepts that can be helpful to anyone dealing with a touch of holiday blues.
One Day At A Time: You don’t have to be an alcoholic to appreciate this one. Thanksgiving, Christmas New Years—when you break it down, each one is just another day. This helps to whittle down the juggernaut of “The Holidays” into a series of days, each one of which is manageable.
If family relations are strained or frayed, the holiday dinners and parties are a lot easier to get through if you are looking at it as just one day to get through and nothing more. It’s going to be a few hours of that day, actually, and anybody can handle a difficult relative for that time. Focus on the people who you really want to see, do your best with the ones you don’t, and always have an escape route!
Another bit of recovery wisdom useful this time of year is “Easy Does It.” Another therapist once asked, “You want to know what gets people crazy over the holidays?” His answer: “Their expectations.”
If you think about it, most holiday stress is self-generated. When did busting through the door of the big box store become the iconic image of the holiday season? Is there anything less appropriate to a season of gratitude, generosity and appreciation than a frenzy of greed? Easy Does It. Take a moment to think about what you really need. What you can give rather than what you can get. Easy Does It. Your party doesn’t have to be the biggest to be the best for your family and friends. Easy Does It, a good mantra for a hectic time of year.
A last recovery slogan that is helpful with the holidays is “Live And Let Live.” It’s common that over the holidays you may find yourself in social situations with people you would rather avoid. The anticipation of having to cozy up to someone you despise at the office party, or sit next to at the family Thanksgiving dinner, is enough to spoil the event before it has even happened. Live And Let Live lets you remember that obnoxious as someone may be, they have their life, and you don’t have to live it. It eases that judgmental part of ourselves that knows, down deep inside, that all would be well if everyone did exactly what we wanted them to do. All the time.
So, take the holidays one day at a time. When you find yourself stressed by slow traffic, long retail lines, endless Christmas lists, remember: Easy Does It! And when Uncle Jack from upstate decides to tell you everything that is horribly wrong with the last candidate you voted for, Live And Let Live. Take it easy on the booze and don’t burn your house down and you will have a good holiday season!