Veterans face many challenges throughout the holiday season, from trauma to continued substance use treatment and recovery. Making changes and finding a way to create a new holiday season is paramount. While there may be many changes, veterans and military families alike always have options for new ways to celebrate the holiday season, complete with new ideas, perspectives, expectations, traditions, and more. Holidays can be an opportunity for veterans and military families to engage in the most effective familial healing and change possible, and Hawaii Island Recovery’s Hawaii recovery center can help military families find their own best approach to creating a new holiday season.
The Importance of Creating a New Holiday Season
Veterans and military families alike may not be prepared for the myriad of changes that may be necessary during the holiday season to promote healing and sobriety. However, making sufficient changes to practices and expectations is paramount, especially as veteran loved ones continue to overcome feelings of trauma, PTSD, anxiety, depression, or the continued effects of substance use disorder (SUD).
The holidays can be a time of great joy, as much as great turmoil. Acknowledging the challenges that veterans face can empower military families to truly embrace healing by changing the tone and expectations of the holiday season. Creating a new holiday season can be the catalyst for genuine change and sustainable sobriety, and committing to change is paramount for veterans and military families as a whole.
Celebrating a New Holiday Season
Just because veterans and military families will have to adjust the way they engage in the holidays doesn’t mean that anyone has to eschew celebrating, or is somehow no longer able to enjoy the holidays at all. Avoiding the holidays completely can lead to feelings of isolation, depression, and other challenges. Rather, finding a new way to celebrate this holiday season can not only promote effective care but also further feelings of camaraderie and familial healing in military families.
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Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
Alcohol use can be a prominent part of holiday expectations. Its use may not just accepted but even celebrated depending on the culture of such celebrations. However, committing to a sober holiday is paramount for veterans overcoming addiction or feelings of trauma, PTSD, survivor’s guilt, and more.
Setting clear expectations and being open about the absence of addictive substances can help military families best prepare for a new holiday experience. Having alcohol and drugs unavailable not only eliminates unnecessary high-risk situations for veterans overcoming SUD but also empowers veteran families to find new ways to engage with each other, creating a new atmosphere this holiday season.
Explore New Traditions
Holidays can be exciting for their traditions – consistent times of year when festivities are enjoyed. However, for veterans looking to establish a new and transformed civilian life, it can be necessary to distance oneself from previous lifestyles and the traditions therein.
Even if drugs and alcohol are omitted from the festivities, continuing to engage in similar activities can still bring back memories and triggers of past use. Rather, using the opportunity to create a new holiday season to explore new activities, games, cultures, and more can be a powerful approach to a transformed holiday season.
Starting traditions such as gift-giving, movie and game nights, or starting traditions that help veterans approach the holiday in their own way can be powerful, such as having dedicated time for remembrance or engaging in practices that acknowledge grief and loss in their daily lives.
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Have a Safe Space and Plan to Escape
It can be impossible to predict all the various stresses and triggers that veterans may face throughout the holidays. With the increased stress and feelings that can populate the holiday season, having a dedicated plan to escape can be necessary for veterans. Even with necessary precautions taken, unknown stresses and triggers may still manifest, and veterans should be able to excuse themselves as needed to address these difficulties.
Being able to go to a personal area can be important, as can having a plan to remove oneself from any given festivities. Working with families and supports to provide transportation as necessary can be crucial for veterans navigating their own continued healing.
Take Time to Give Gifts
Gift-giving is a powerful skill for military families in recovery. Talking about newfound interests, hobbies, and more is crucial, as many military veterans may have missed out on the development of new hobbies, personalities, interests, and more. Gift-giving practices can ensure that military families continue to adapt and accept each other for their new interests and needs, which can lead to a better understanding, acceptance, gratitude, and trust among family members.
Celebrate Accomplishments for a New Holiday Season
Celebrating accomplishments is a great way to create a new atmosphere around the holidays. Being able to look back on the accomplishments and changes of the year can be a powerful experience, and many veterans and military families can benefit from seeing the positive changes and acknowledging the challenges overcome throughout the year.
Celebrating accomplishments as a holiday practice can help military families better understand and acknowledge the challenges veterans face, as well as help veterans better sympathize with how military families address their own healing and provide support. Hawaii Island Recovery can always help veterans and their families find new ways to identify and celebrate each person’s profound accomplishments throughout the holidays and beyond.
Creating a new holiday season, complete with new traditions, expectations, practices, and more is a complicated ordeal for veterans and military families. However, it can also be a necessary step in creating a truly transformed civilian life. At Hawaii Island Recovery, we champion the opportunity to work with you and your family to understand the stresses that veterans face and create a truly transformative plan for change. Our unique approach to veteran healing allows us to blend the practices of veteran-specific programming and treatment with family programs to create a truly holistic approach to change, all while creating a community of peers to support continued healing. For more information on our Hawaii recovery center this holiday, call (866) 390-5070.