The holidays can be a great time to kick back and relax. They are often difficult times, which can bring up unpleasant memories for those who grew out of trauma and despair.  The holidays are often reminders for those who grew up in dysfunction of what wasn't working in the family,  and how that contrasted with the endless effervescence of holiday cheer. From a mental health perspective,   we all want to experience joy and happiness so how can we get the holidays to work for us?   Engage in things that are meaningful.  You may enjoy spending this with your family around the usual traditions -- but consider adding alternative things onto this.  What would it be like to have your own holiday on a different date with your own friends?  If you're in recovery this might be a time to go to more meetings.  Many people get depressed after the holidays, so it might be a good idea to be proactive about that.  Maybe this is the time to arrange a trip to the tropics most New Years?  Developing a new health practice?   Developing a new interest?  And if you're feeling triggered, remember, hour recovery comes first.  So if it's possible,  look ahead and map out where you feel you will be most supported in your process of healing and where you won't acknowledge that you have the power to choose how you want to celebrate.   

David Salvage, MD, FAPM

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