Maintaining a Self-Harm Sober Streak Through the Holidays

November 18, 2021 Kim Berkley

Maintaining a self-harm sober streak can be difficult in the best of times, but for many people, the holidays can be especially trying. Here are some things to keep in mind while walking the path of self-injury recovery this holiday season.

Why Staying Self-Harm Sober During the Holidays Is Hard

It doesn't matter whether your self-harm sober streak has lasted a day, a month, or a year. The holidays represent many things to many people, but all too often, they hang upon us a pressure that can be overwhelming to bear—especially if you are trying to bear it alone.

If you see the holidays as a stressful time, the source of that pressure is obvious. But even if you look forward to the so-called "season of giving," there's stress inherent in that, too. You may feel pressure to buy beyond your budget, or to spend time with people you would rather not. Even if you're excited to celebrate with friends and family, that's still positive stress.

And all of that excitement and stress builds and builds, and can quickly become too much to carry if you do not have the support and coping strategies in place to deal with it healthily. And if you turn to self-harm to cope, the stress of relapsing—and of hiding that relapse from friends and family—may only make matters worse.

How to Maintain a Self-Harm Sober Streak in Times of Stress

If your perception of the holidays is a positive one, it's easy to get wrapped up in preparations and festivities and forget to look after your mental health. And if your outlook is negative, the difficult feelings that this season can stir up can also trigger self-harm cravings.

In both cases, the most important thing is to make space for self-care. If your schedule is full to bursting, try and cancel a few activities where you're able and pen in some time just for you. If your schedule is empty, avoid isolating yourself completely. Try and make some plans, whether in person or remotely, with people you enjoy spending time with. You don't have to celebrate anything you don't want to; it's enough just to have a good time together.

If you feel you don't have anyone you can turn to for help, support, or good cheer, now is a great time to look into joining a support group. Don't feel up to it? Try a hobby group instead—anything that you could conceivably enjoy doing with other people, whether online or locally.

Now is also a good time to consider therapy. If you're not already actively attending sessions, signing up now for some kind of professional mental health support can help boost your ability to stay self-harm sober during the holidays. If you can't attend in person, remember that there are remote options, too.

What If You Break Your Self-Harm Sober Streak During the Holidays?

First of all, don't panic. You're far from the first person—or the last—to relapse during the holidays. There is help available if you need it. Call emergency services or a hotline if you need urgent help, or call your therapist. If you don't have one, talk to a friend or family member if you can. You can even comment on this blog if you like.

The important thing is to reach out to your support system. If you don't have one, there's no time like the present to begin building one.

Remember, relapse during the holidays isn't uncommon. It's an overwhelming time for many of us, myself included. While yes, it's obviously better to avoid relapsing if you can, know that if you cannot, it does not mean you are a failure or that you are weak. It simply means that you have stumbled along the path to recovery, but you can still pick yourself up and begin again.

Just take it one day, and one step, at a time. And remember what the holidays are really supposed to be about—love. That includes self-love; never forget that.

APA Reference
Kim Berkley (2021, November 18). Maintaining a Self-Harm Sober Streak Through the Holidays, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 24 from

Author: Kim Berkley

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