Five Ways to Manage Stress and Avoid Overindulgence During the Holidays

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Center for Network Therapy's Addiction Therapist Dr. Indra Cidambi Explains How to Get Through the Season Without Taking Holiday Revelry Too Far

Dr. Indra Cidambi

December is the season to eat, drink and be merry. But for some people, the holidays can also be a time of family drama, budgeting presents, or schedule overload. This stress of daily living can easily build up during this busy time of year, causing some people to use the holiday spirit as an excuse to indulge in their weaknesses, turning to alcohol or drugs to help cope with the pressure. Leading Addiction Expert, Dr. Indra Cidambi of Center for Network Therapy, says it’s important to make sure one doesn’t go overboard and has a few useful tips to help manage stress and avoid overindulging this holiday season.

“Indulging during the holidays does not have to be dirty word,” says Addiction Psychiatrist, Dr. Cidambi. “The problems come when a person doesn’t realize that he or she is turning to alcohol, or even drugs, to deal with stress or numb their feelings. There is a difference between ‘just having fun’ and crossing over into dependency or addiction, so it is important to identify issues and deal with them before it becomes a recurring cycle.”

Dr. Cidambi recommends following five steps to deal with stress during this holiday season:

1.    Watch for Buildup: Buildup is the first phase that stress starts to accumulate. It can be people, places or things that push you over the line. “Whether it’s dealing with an overbearing sibling at Christmas dinner, a friend who undermines you, or a relative with unrealistic holiday gift expectations, pinpointing exactly what’s causing you to feel overwhelmed or stressed is the first step in dealing with the problem,” says Dr. Cidambi. Write down what is stressing you out. “Once you have a list of stressors you have given yourself the ability to plan ahead.”

2.    Identify Triggers: Dr. Cidambi recommends thinking about the event or party you are planning on attending. “Does your aunt always taunt you when you give her a modest present? Does your boss use you as the butt of his jokes at holiday parties? If issues like these cause you to seek refuge in alcohol or drugs to numb yourself, it is critical to plan ahead,” says Dr. Cidambi.

3.    Plan Ahead: Visualize the incident or event that stressed you out in the past. Choose an ideal outcome from dealing with that stressor and compare it to the outcome the last time around. If you find that the outcome the last time around was not the one you would have liked, you may need to address these issues proactively in advance.

4.    Speak Up: “It may be a good idea to share your concerns with people who may impact you, or people who could support you in such situations,” suggests Dr. Cidambi. “For instance, you could talk to your aunt in advance to let her know that you are going through a rough patch financially, or you could talk to your boss before the office party and let him know how he makes you feel.”

5.    Choose Your Events: “Sometimes things are out of your control. It’s not always practical or possible to get the support you need, so it becomes critical to focus on what you can control and choose the events one attends,” suggests Dr. Cidambi. “Remember that, most times, you are not obligated to attend every event you are invited to, so make it easy on yourself by choosing to go a few select events where you are not likely to face such stressors.”

“The key to managing stress is to figure out if any particular issue is causing one to overindulge in an unhealthy way, and putting in interventions,” says Dr. Cidambi. “When a person has a lot of issues impacting them negatively, it is easier to address them and effectively dissolve stressors through advance planning.”

For most people, Dr. Cidambi’s recommendations could help identify their tendencies to overindulge and solve issues so that they do not repeat the same cycle. However, Dr. Cidambi adds, “There may be some people, unfortunately, who find themselves going through a cycle of build-up, acting out (consuming drugs or alcohol to cope) and justifying their actions, repetitively. If they are unable to break this cycle by themselves it is a cause for concern and they should seek professional help, as they are exhibiting signs of dependence on substances.”

For more information on substance abuse dependency, addiction and treatment, please go to

About Dr. Indra Cidambi
Indra Cidambi, M.D., Medical Director, Center for Network Therapy, is recognized as a leading expert and pioneer in the field of Addiction Medicine. Under her leadership the Center for Network Therapy started New Jersey’s first state licensed Ambulatory (Outpatient) Detoxification program for all substances nearly three years ago. Dr. Cidambi is Board Certified in General Psychiatry and double Board Certified in Addiction Medicine (ABAM, ABPN). She is fluent in five languages, including Russian.

About Center for Network Therapy
Center for Network Therapy (CNT) was the first facility in New Jersey to be licensed to provide Ambulatory (Outpatient) Detoxification Services for all substances of abuse – alcohol, anesthetics, benzodiazepines, opiates and other substances of abuse. Led by a Board Certified Addiction Psychiatrist, Indra Cidambi, M.D., experienced physicians and nurses closely monitor each patient’s progress. With CNT’s superior client care and high quality treatment, Dr. Cidambi and her clinical team have successfully detoxed over 600 patients in nearly three years.

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Marisa Amador
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