The holiday season is here, and often the first things that pop-ups are family, gifts, free time, good food, and deep conversations. But, when someone in the family is dealing with addictive behaviors the perspective can be different as well. 

2020 is indeed a special year, and while for many these times are to celebrate, with feelings of togetherness and comfort, for others it is the most stressful time of the year, due to the unsolved problems and the struggle to reach a solution before the year ends. 

“The biggest challenge is associated with the environmental cues surrounding the holidays.” 

Our minds work in a way that is always looking for new associations, and most of the time, using the same old associations we have been using for years. Imagine all of the memories and stories you may have around the holidays. That Thanksgiving when someone made you laugh because they ruined the whole dinner, or that Christmas when you got the gift you desired for so long, or that new year when you started drinking again.

How can you overcome those old patterns of behaviors? The ones that automatically react to the same old triggers, causing you to smoke or to drink when you don’t want to do it anymore? 

One thing that is different about this year is that our general environment changed. It is more than probable that our holidays will transform and have a virtual component, maybe not so many people at the table, and without that much travel involved. We may stay at home, around the classic cues that accompany us throughout the year.

If you are smoke-free or sober and want to stay quit, it’s key to have a clear strategy to cope with the environmental cues and triggers that may appear. Either having a family member hosting the holiday or at your home, you should pay attention to the following:

1.Plan ahead of time where you will go for your holidays, who will be there that may be a trigger to you, what you should avoid, what you should say, and how you would react if someone or something triggers you to smoke or to drink.

2.Stay alert throughout the gatherings by being sure to eat right, get time to sleep, feel supported and around people that love you (in person or by phone), and always bringing up what you need and feel.

3.Say NO to peer pressure when you are around people that may invite the old image of you to have a cigarette or drink with them. Remember you have decided to change, and you are entitled to become a new version of yourself.

At any rate, the holiday season represents a special time to give new meanings to old ways. And as usual, it happens when willingness, motivation, capabilities, and skills are aligned.

Nothing can change if you don’t go through a transformation yourself and for that to occur, sometimes the best thing to do is look for help. If you are trying to change your behavior, especially smoking, you can trust MindCotine will help you train your brain in a comprehensive approach, by combining virtual reality and mindfulness to decrease your reaction to known triggers and to habituate to the regular environments that are related to smoking.